Beaver Reintroductions in Europe

By the 1900s beaver population in Eurasia had fallen from 100 million to 1000, in North America from 60 million to several thousands and in Germany from several hundred thousand to only 200.

Once the urgent need for conservation of the beaver became apparent, re-introduction programmes commenced across Europe. These projects began in the 1920s, and at least 157 reintroductions in 24 European countries have now taken place. The only western European range states not to have restored the species to date are Lichtenstein, Montenegro, Italy and mainland Britain.

By the beginning of the 20th century the decline had been reversed with legal protection. European beavers have now been restored to over 24 nations where they were formerly extinct. They are currently estimated to number around 639,000 individuals in mainland Europe.

Re-introducing any species requires research, careful planning, management and consultation. The European beaver is a widely restored species in continental Europe, where there is a wealth of supporting scientific literature and contemporary management ability. Experience from mainland Europe suggests that reintroduction is likely to be successful if the correct habitat is chosen and the appropriate population of beavers are released. The species is still classified as vulnerable and is protected under European law but it is no longer in imminent danger of extinction