Overeager beavers felling too many trees in Pärnu

A beaver in Pärnu.
A beaver in Pärnu. Source: ERR

A recent spate of beaver-related tree fellings in Estonia's summer capital Pärnu has led locals to consider ways to prevent further damage.

Beavers do not have a permanent habitat in the Estonian city of Pärnu, though they often appear in different spots around the country's summer capital. Ten years ago, their favorite place in the city was the Pärnu moat. Since then, they have also been sighted regularly in the area by Jaanson's running and cycling track.

However, a recent increase in tree fellings caused by beavers close to the Tervise Paradiis spa hotel and water park, has proved to be the final straw for many Pärnu locals. Measures are now being discussed about the best way to prevent the beavers from causing any more damage.

Beavers are generally nocturnal, meaning that capturing them on camera can prove difficult. Despite that, in 2019, when the beaver was Estonia's animal of the year, filmmaker Remek Meel recorded a documentary about them, revealing fascinating insights into their daily lives in the wild.

In the city however, beavers can be a real nuisance. While storms and heavy winds have also played their part, beavers have recently been hard at work, gnawing away at trees in Pärnu, causing many to fall.  

"There are a lot of places in Estonia, where beavers live on the edge of (human) settlements or even inside them. Of course, they don't really intrude on people's land and don't start chewing on trees in public parks," said Aimar Rakko, head of the Estonian Environmental Board's hunting and aquatic wildlife department.

"If you can keep them under control, then beavers could well live alongside people. If the bigger trees are covered with nets to stop (beavers) from chewing through them until they fall, then the leaves and twigs that they mostly feed on will run out at some point. If the beavers have nothing left to eat, then they will leave," said Aimar Rakko, head of the Estonian Environmental Board's hunting and aquatic wildlife department.

"It takes longer (to do this), but it's the best solution," he said.

Some locals have spotted beavers close to the trees they have been gnawing away at on the outskirts of Pärnu, however there have been no confirmed sightings of the animals in the city itself.

"He's quite dangerous. He digs his own burrows. Once, I fell into a beaver's burrow, but only with one foot. If you fall in with both feet though... it can be several meters deep and then there is water at the bottom," said Olev, who lives in Pärnu.

"I've seen them in the countryside. Some are more than half a meter tall, with dark fur and bright eyes on their heads," Olev continued.

"And they move really fast. On my land, there are some big birch trees by the lake. They have chewed them all up and so now the trees have fallen down."

Hedvig, who also lives locally, says he has never personally come across any beavers, however, the damage they have caused is plain for all to see.

"I haven't seen any beavers. I've lived in Pärnu all my life and I have never seen any beavers. I just look at the trees that have fallen down and, well that tells the whole story," he said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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