Argentina eager to rid island of beavers
The beaver population has overwhelmed the island of Tierra Del Fuego|
|CNN's Gary Strieker looks at efforts to reduce the destruction of the ravaging beaver (July 9)
July 9, 1999
Web posted at: 1:41 p.m. EDT (1741 GMT)
By Correspondent Gary Strieker
TIERRA DEL FUEGO, Argentina (CNN) -- A stealthy invader from
the north is wiping out large areas of native forest on
Tierra del Fuego, an island at the southern tip of South
The invader, the North American beaver, has proliferated from
only a few pairs 50 years ago to at least 100,000 today.
The Argentinean government imported the original beavers to raise on commercial fur farms. When the project failed, the beavers were released. They quickly spread across the island.
They have since chewed their way through river valleys and
stream beds, felling the trees they need for food and
building dams, which create even greater damage.
"What happens when the beavers take over an area like this,
they raise the water level, the roots in the trees rot, and
the tree dies," said Marcela Uhart of the Wildlife
The population explosion has taken place because the beavers
have no natural predators in this new environment.
Rivero traps beavers hoping to control the population
"They belong in another habitat. Their native habitat is not
this," Uhart said. "So there needs to be some kind of control
here. They have no native species to control them."
Wildlife experts say the beaver population on the island
would eventually be limited by available resources. But until
then beavers would continue to spread, taking down countless
trees in their path.
Gustavo Matteazzi, an animal control official with the
Argentinean government, hopes to control the beaver
population by supplying hundreds of traps to people like
The rancher says he takes more than 1,000 beavers every
year using the traps, which kill the animals swiftly and
If the government gives him more traps and some financing, he
says he can take more than 10 times as many beavers.
Rivero can produce high quality furs, but currently the
international price is depressed because of economic troubles
in major markets like Russia and Korea.
If prices recover, and beaver trappers can make a profit, it
may still be possible to control the invasion of beavers on
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