Change to World Wednesday, 25 December, 2002, 21:56 GMT
Bavarian beavers sent across Europe
A century ago beavers were dying out in Europe
By Katya Adler
In Berlin In the southern German state of Bavaria, beavers - once threatened with near extinction - are breeding so successfully that wildlife conservationists are having to transport them abroad to save them from angry local farmers, whose crops they have been eating.Bavaria has become beaver country.
Six thousand beavers currently live there - a few thousand too many for the local farmers who regard the rodents as pests.Beavers love to nibble sugar cane and corn.
So to rescue the beavers from the potentially murderous ire of the Bavarian farmers, a group of zoologists have been organising their safe transportation abroad.They are bundling them into trailers and motoring them across the border. New generationThanks to these self-styled beaver councillors, Bavarian beavers are now busy building dams across rivers and streams in Spain, Hungary, Croatia, Romania and Belgium.
A hundred years ago, beavers were dying out in Europe. They were killed to make fashionable winter coats and quack doctors used their sex glands in love potions.Only in Russia, southern France and Norway could beavers paddle with impunity. Until the 1970s that is, when German wildlife conservationists began to breed a new generation of beavers in Bavaria.
It seems they were a little too successful in fulfilling their aims.