Beavers make a come back near Paris

Ile-de-France river patrol officers spot trees gnawed to a ‘pencil point’ as rodents spread north

Beavers are making a comeback in Ile-de-France with traces found in Essonne and Seine-et-Marne.

The Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage said the Eurasian beaver, Europe’s biggest rodent, had not been seen in the Paris area since the 19th century.

River protection officers had spotted several trees that had been chopped down by beavers which had left the characteristic ‘pencil’ point stump.

The ONCFS said in August that a survey last year had showed that beavers were present in 51 departments in France, mostly in the east and centre, and the new discovery brings the total to 53.

Paul Hurel, the regional officer in charge of the ONCFS survey, said there were about 2,000 across the country and they would be following up the new finds.

River protection officers from Syndicat Intercommunal d'Aménagement, de Réseaux et de Cours d'Eau had found the traces of one or two individuals along the river Essonne where they had felled small trees for food.

Mr Hurel said they had not yet found where they were going to build their den.

Beavers, with their characteristic flat tail, are protected in France unlike the smaller coypu which has a round tail. Anyone found trapping or killing a beaver faces a fine of €30,000 and a year in jail.

From the 17th century beavers were hunted for their fur, meat and oil from the castoretum gland, which was thought to have medicinal qualities.

By the start of the 20th century there were only to be found in the lower Rhône valley. A series of reintroductions has seen their numbers grow in the Loire, Rhône, Moselle, Rhine and Tarn basins.