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The plague of beavers: a problem of two countries

Argentina and Chile fight against beavers plague in Tierra del Fuego. They have recently joined forces in defense of the Patagonian ecosystem.

All environment

The NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) managed to capture 96 beavers. He did so with the valuable collaboration of ten rooms near the Marazzi River basin. Thus, it recovered almost 100 percent of the population of this species in Tierra del Fuego. This action on Chilean soil is part of a joint effort by Argentina and Chile against a common enemy. This is a beautiful, herbivorous and friendly animal. This is why it has been difficult to convince activists in both countries that beavers are a very dangerous plague.

On the Argentine side

Our country has long been fighting beavers with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). A group of seven hunters go into the woods to look for them. They go to the most inaccessible areas by helicopter. But it's not easy. Erio Curto, director of Fauna and Biodiversity of Tierra del Fuego, no doubt. “I wish we could take them all down. But it's not the idea now. We have chosen seven zones to see how much it would cost and what effects it would have to eliminate them completely from Tierra del Fuego. The concern is that they continue to rise and have already crossed the continent. They could spread all over Patagonia. The most interesting thing is that we see that, where we have eradicated the beaver, the forest begins to recover,” he says. Even if it does not seem so, beavers are dangerous to the ecosystem in our country. In Tierra del Fuego they have destroyed an area equal to two times the city of Buenos Aires, about 30,000 hectares.

On the Chilean side

In Chile there is the Gef Castor Project. This one has within its objectives identify the best methodologies to eradicate this animal exotic invader known as beaver. Such an animal endangers the Patagonian ecosystem as it causes the destruction of forests, wetlands and bogs, among others.

The GEF Castor Project has three pilot programs. The first, in Karukinka Park, and another in the Laguna Parrillar National Reserve. Both of them are protected, private and public areas respectively. The Marazzi program, on the other hand, has the characteristic of intervene stays dedicated mainly to livestock. In fact, it is a extensive area of 45 thousand hectares, according to the coordinator of Research WCS Terrestrial. Alejandro Kusch said that “he is a big pilot, in compared to that of Karukinka of 18 thousand hectares. And it's also big in relation to those carried out in Argentina.”

A two-country problem

Tierra del Fuego is an island shared between Argentina and Chile. The beaver acts both on one side and on the other. Its effects have been disastrous for natural ecosystems. They have not only caused direct forest loss, but also disruptions of watercourses. Also flooding into roads and conflicts in the mouth of water purification plants, among others. Against this background, in 2008, a Binational Agreement was signed between the Governments of Chile and Argentina. It established a framework of cooperation to contain and control beaver populations.

Beavers build dikes even without a river. It is enough that there is a water jet 10 centimetres deep for them to build a dam. Sometimes, just by pulling out the beaver, the dikes opened up, returning the channel to normal.

As a result, the two countries work together. Both one and the other are sure of the result of the removal of beavers

Publication Date: 03/01/2020

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