What’s going on?

Before the snow, I was outdoors recently, enjoying the five minutes of sunshine that made it through the fog…

Hey, what’s going on here?

Under our fir trees in the garden the tips of the branches litter the ground…. who’s up there? (I’ll give you a clue: they eat hazelnuts!)

Later, while down near the canal…

What’s this?

Plant material is being dragged across the footpath, from the thin strip of farmland on one side to the canal on the other!

Here’s a big clue:

The creatures themselves remain elusive. On almost every walk down near the water, I see new signs of these fellow vegetarians. But I have never seen one!

Background: the beaver’s coat is very dense and warm… this made it a desirable commodity to man, and by the 19th century the beaver had died out in the whole of Europe due to overhunting and the destruction of its habitat.

However, in the 1960s a few well-meaning nature conservationists re-introduced the beaver to European waters. In the north of Germany the Canadian Beaver was set out, but in Bavaria various types of European Beaver, quite a bit smaller than the Canadian or North American beavers, were released.

File:KCC2008Wildwood235.jpg

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Within 30 years they had become a problem for some, since they are officially protected and cannot be hunted. In addition, they no longer have any natural predators in this country. Foresters, anglers, farmers and gardeners are not keen on them, although projects to reduce damage and provide information have slightly improved the beaver’s reputation. Many people still think that re-introducing animals to a habitat that is largely populated by humans cannot bode well. There are now an estimated 15,000 beavers in Bavaria alone!

What do you think about re-introducing creatures to regions where they have long died out?