The history and legacy of reintroduction of beavers in the European North of Russia
Danilov P.I., Fyodorov F.V.
In the European North of Russia the Eurasian beaver had been extirpated over two hundred years ago. Owing to active introduction and dispersals from the 1930s to the 1950s, beavers have re-colonized the natural ecosystems in the European North. Furthermore, Finland and Russia (Karelia, Leningrad and Arkhangelsk provinces) are now co-inhabited by two beaver species — the North American (Castor canadensis Kuhl) and the Eurasian (C. fiber L.) beaver. North American beavers, which have colonized a major part of Finland, Karelia and the Karelian Isthmus in the Leningrad Province, descended from the seven animals brought to Finland from the USA in the 1930s (Linnamies, 1956; Siivonen, 1956; Lahti, 1968). Subsequent intraregional translocations of these animals took place in both Finland and Russia (n=270). The main origins of Eurasian beavers introduced in provinces adjacent to Karelia (Arkhangelsk, Vologda and Leningrad provinces) (n=1349) were the Voronezh Province (26.5% of all releases in the study area), Republic of Belarus (20.8%), Mari El Republic (12.5%), Smolensk Province (6.2%), Bryansk Province (5.3%), Ryazan Province (3.6%), Komi Republic (1.5%), and other regions (5.6%). Intraregional translocations of the Eurasian beaver were also conducted (18%). In total, more than 1800 Eurasian beavers were introduced in the European North of Russia (Murmansk, Leningrad, Novgorod, Pskov, Arkhangelsk and Vologda provinces). The present-day North American beaver population is estimated at 12000 animals in Karelia and 1000 in the Karelian Isthmus, Leningrad Province (Danilov et al., 2007, 2012). Eurasian beaver numbers are estimated at 4000 animals in Karelia (Danilov & Fyodorov, unpublished data), with fewer than 40 beavers in the Murmansk Province (Kataev, 2015), 23000 in the Leningrad Province, 25000 in the Novgorod Province, 17600 in the Pskov Province, 21000 in the Arkhangelsk Province, and 32600 animals in the Vologda Province (Borisov, 2011). Presently, Eurasian beavers live in those areas in southern Karelia that were inhabited by North American beavers since they were released there at the end of the 1960s, i.e. one species has been replaced by the other (Danilov et al., 2007, 2011; Danilov & Fyodorov, 2015a). In southern Karelia, the closest distance between colonies of different beaver species is 10 km. Conversely, in north-eastern Karelia (Kemsky District), North American beavers penetrated into the Arkhangelsk Province and are colonizing areas inhabited by the Eurasian beaver. In 2015, they were spotted in the Arkhangelsk Province, 70 km east of the administrative border with Karelia.DOI: 10.15298/rusjtheriol.15.1.07
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