Beavers can heal a lot of the ecosystems that humans have destroyed

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Beavers are back

The beaver, a rodent, should be left to do some work for us by healing the ecosystems that we have destroyed. However, beavers do attract polarised viewpoints.

First I’d like to make the point that David Sanderson makes in The Times of Monday, June 3, 2019, which is that CS Lewis gave the beaver a bad press. The author of The Chronicles of Narnia has misled generations of schoolchildren by giving them the impression that beavers prey on fish when in fact they are totally herbivorous.

Cute threesome of beavers soaking wet.
Cute threesome. Photo: BBC

“They’re totally herbivorous. That’s one of the funny things about beaver reproduction in the UK: every British schoolchild reads Narnia and they grow up thinking that beavers are going to eat all the fish. That is biologically inaccurate… [They are in fact] choosy generalists.”

Mr Goldfarb author of The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

They like to eat certain species of tree such as the willow and the poplar family of trees: birch, aspen cottonwood. They appear to prefer aspen to willow or birch. They are, as mentioned, totally vegetarian and they can cut your lawn for you if you wish.

They were hunted to extinction in Britain by the 16th century for their pelts and a glandular oil that they secrete which was popular for medicinal use.

They’ve been reintroduced into Argyll & Bute in Scotland in 2009 and there have been other limited reintroductions into the wild.

People who support the reintroduction of the beaver into the wild argue that beaver dams, which are built on the upper stretches of rivers, slow down water flow to the lower land which minimises flooding and can also help eliminate pollutants.

Beaver dam
Beaver dam. Photo: Alex Riley.

The counterargument is that they cause flooding and threaten crops and they alter fish migration while also damaging woodland.

My personal viewpoint is that we should accelerate the reintroduction of the beaver because I think they do good. What do you think?