Beavers in Patagonia – The Unwelcome Guest


Patagonia’s Beaver Problem & Eradication

When traveling to the southernmost reaches of Patagonia you will encounter an amazing landscape, a land shaped by the winds, Tierra del Fuego. Beautiful forests inhabited by the most intriguing wildlife, but also an unwelcome guest; a creature introduced in the 1940s, brought all the way from Canada, to help start a fur industry, which has become a plague. This animal is the North American beaver (Castor canadensis), which in other places in the globe has brought benefits in an ecological aspect, but here in Patagonia, without a natural predator, 50 beavers in Patagonia have become over 100,000 in under 70 years.

Beavers in Patagonia with Quasar Expeditions

The problem with this amount of beavers in Patagonia is the destruction that they cause, cutting down trees by the hundreds and creating dams in rivers and streams, interrupting their natural flow of water. The magnitude of the damage generated has made people say that the cut down forests look as if dozens of bulldozers raged through, leaving nothing behind.

Beavers cutting down trees in Patagonia by the hundreds
Beavers in Patagonia creating dams in rivers and streams

But why is this a problem here in Patagonia and not in other places? First of all, everywhere else there is some kind of natural predator that controls the beaver population, limiting its numbers. Not for the beavers in Patagonia. Another factor that lessens the impact of the beaver elsewhere is the evolution of the fauna. For example, in Canada, the trees that beavers cut down are able to grow back from their roots. On the other hand, the trees these animals destroy in Patagonia, such as beeches, are not able to grow back once they have been cut.

Beech trees in Patagonia are not able to grow back once they have been cut
Beavers in Patagonia gnawing at the trees

The damage caused by the beaver in Patagonia has lead Chilean and Argentinean authorities to begin planning strategies for the eradication of the beaver from the region to completely eliminate the problem. According to Nature magazine, this is the biggest ever eradication plan ever tried, but experts agree that, though it is difficult, it definitely is not impossible.

BA Beaver in Patagonia doing work on the trees

To learn about other animals in Patagonia visit here —–> Patagonia Animals

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