Station 8 - English
Beaver-Human Conflict Station
Beaver transport to the Eifel
Although the lynx once again leaves its traces in the National Park, brown bears and wolves will perhaps never again roam the Eifel forests. Castor faber, the beaver, has returned with human help. Between 1981 and 1989, nature conservationists transported 12 beavers from Eastern Europe to the North Eifel. By 2005 the beavers had already multiplied to more than 200 animals, in numerous family groups.
Beavers and others in the National Park
Sooner or later the beaver will have colonised all suitable habitats in the National Park. We can expect that a frequent companion of the beaver will also return to the beaver ponds: The European otter.
How much nature do we want?
In a National Park, nature has the top priority. Here human beings are only guests – although they are welcome ones. However many wild animals, particularly if they are large, cannot survive in nature protection areas alone. They require additional space in our cultivated landscape, and must be able to roam between protected areas.
This is possible only if we tolerate such animal species in our living environment. Eifel beavers, which are increasingly expanding their range, are an example. How many beavers do we want?
The following discussion could take place between a beaver and a “beaver opponent”:
Beaver opponent: The favourite activity of beavers is cutting down trees. This destroys our beautiful forests, of which we are so proud. We don’t need beavers!
Beaver: Naturally we use trees as a source of food, and to build our lodges and dams. However, we require limited numbers of trees and, furthermore, by felling them we create space for young, species-rich alluvial forests.
Beaver opponent: Where beavers construct their underground passages and burrows, they endanger dams and dikes, thus increasing the risk of flooding. Do away with beavers!
Beaver: It’s quite true that we also undermine dams. However, every beaver consultant has tips at hand about how to use simple construction measures to prevent this. Also, keep in mind that the damage caused by muskrats, which you introduced from North America over 100 years ago, is considerably greater.
Beaver opponent: We have equipped our region with purification plants, drainage channels and receiving waters, to establish orderly water resource management. Beavers pay no attention to this. They build everywhere, obstruct outlet pipes and make collecting basins overflow. It is intolerable!
Beaver: Intelligent human beings take beavers into consideration when planning waterworks structures, and protect these from our interference. Likewise, intelligent people are also aware that elsewhere, by renaturalising bodies of water, we beavers perform an extremely valuable service for you, at no cost to you.
Beaver opponent: These greedy beavers invade farmers’ fields and eat maize, beets and grain. We don’t want beavers, except in zoos and nature protection areas.
Beaver: The food we eat includes 150 to 300 plant species – grasses, herbs, aquatic plants, poplar, willow, alder, elm, bird cherry, and many others. Only in places where you have displaced the natural vegetation along bodies of water do we also visit fields. You should keep this in mind!
Beaver opponent: Beavers dig in the banks of rivers and brooks – with the result that riverside roads are undermined and fields cave in under tractors. We cannot accept such behaviour from these creatures!
Beaver: Did you know that 95 percent of so-called beaver damage occurs no more than 20 metres from the bank of a brook or river? Have you not yet learned from the flood damage of recent years that you must not build on brook and river floodplains, and that fields should not extend to the banks of bodies of water?
Beaver opponent: Beavers multiply like rabbits. Sooner or later, one will appear in my garden, destroying wooden fences and fruit trees. Beavers? No, thank you!
Beaver: Firstly, through population control and stiff competition for territory, we limit our numbers ourselves. Secondly, you have largely eliminated our natural enemies, such as the wolf, bear and lynx. Thirdly, have you ever watched us in the twilight? Well? Aren’t you glad that we are here again?