Beaver populations seem to be thriving in the Netherlands, particularly in the provinces of Brabant, Utrecht and Limburg where sightings have been up in recent years, local broadcasters say.
Beavers (Castor fiber) were hunted for their fur and musk and became extinct in the Netherlands in the early 19th century. They were successfully re-introduced in the Biesbosch nature reserve in Brabant in 1988.
There have been nearly 2,000 reported sightings in the last two and a half years, warden Thomas van der Es told local broadcaster Omroep Brabant.
Beavers have an important effect on the landscape by making dams and burrows and gnawing down trees. The slowly dying trees attract woodpeckers and insects and provide a place for mushrooms to grow. Beavers also bring down trees in inaccessible places which means the sunlight can reach the bottom of the river and promote plant growth.
‘You could say the beaver is the head manager of the nature reserve,’ warden Maarten den Hartigh told RTV Utrecht.
But beavers are also have a reputation for causing damage and in Twente, where the beaver has also been sighted, water boards have said they would have to take measures if beavers start digging at the dikes.
Despite the number of sightings it is not clear if the beaver population is actually growing in the Biesbosch. Van der Es said more people may be reporting seeing the animals. At the same time a proper count is difficult, he said, because the animals are shy and burrows may hide entire families.
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