BELA NAD RADBUZOU, Czech Republic – Scientists from a Czech university have been venturing out into watery environments in a bid to collect data from young Eurasian beavers and thus gain a better understanding of their behavior, as reported by epa on Tuesday.
Researchers from Prague’s Czech University of Life Sciences (CULS) have been using live traps, seen in epa images, to capture the large rodents that inhabit the Radbuza River on the western Czech border with southern Germany’s Bavaria region, to gather information about their weight, height, sex, blood type and age, for analysis.
“Beavers are important because they help to control a river’s rate of flow, and though they are associated with boggy areas and can cause damage, they’re useful on dry land because they build dams that help maintain moisture,” head of the project Ales Vorel, from CULS’s Ecology Faculty, told EFE.
The area is home to an estimated 180-250 young beavers, belonging to some 40 families, who established themselves there not long ago. This is of particular interest to the researchers.
In epa images, Vorel and his team can be seen setting up the live traps in which to catch the animals, removing beavers from the river, taking blood samples and body measurements, as well as fitting radios to their tails.
Tagging the animals allows the team to keep track of the rodents’ movements and garner greater insight into their habitats.
Farmers, foresters and watershed managers often consider that beavers damage the landscape, but overlook their natural role in easing drought, maintaining river currents and conserving ecosystems, the Czech experts concluded.
Dams made by beavers slow flow of water in a stream and create wetlands with rich sediments that are beneficial for the ecosystem.
The project, now entering its second year, focuses on young beavers who have left their nests and are looking for partners with whom to repopulate the riverbanks.
The Czech Republic is one of three European countries conducting extensive research into beaver behavior, along with Norway and Russia.
The results of this study are to be published in two years time, and will reveal the journeys of the creatures throughout Central Europe, with conclusions that will be applicable to Germany, Austria and Poland.
“We’re interested in those young who leave their families, in which direction they go, at what time of year,” said Vorel, pointing out that beavers are under threat by poachers and legislation that does not properly protect them.
National heritage groups, for example, have asked for permission to poison beavers for causing damage to castles and manor houses, which are tourist attractions.
There are some 5,000 beavers in the Czech Republic, according to Vorel.