Beavers in Ireland?


Sir, – Those promoting the introduction of beavers to Ireland would do well to look at the experience in Tierra del Fuego.

In 1946, the decision was made to develop a beaver fur trade industry and beavers, not native to the area, were introduced. The beavers prospered; the fur trade didn’t. Beavers have no natural predators in that part of the world. The normally nocturnal animals now happily come out during the day with nothing to fear. So far, what’s the problem, you may think. Woodland is where the problem is. The beavers, as they do, go about their business, flooding areas of woodland to the detriment of the trees. The economic damage is vast. In 1981, I spent some time with a park warden who was studying the problem. By that time the numbers had grown to at least several hundred pairs. They were still nocturnal. In 2006, I again visited Tierra del Fuego. Estimated numbers were now 70,000 to 100,000 animals and were readily visible during the day. Chile and Argentina, who share the island of Tierra del Fuego, are currently trying to eradicate them. It’s an uphill battle. Think twice before you introduce non-native species. – Yours, etc,