Beaver management in Norway: a model for continental Europe?
While Norway has been managing beaver (Castor fiber) for more than 150 years, most central European countries have little experience and none are presently harvesting beaver, despite rapidly growing populations and conflicts. Here we present the Norwegian beaver management model as an example. The main goals are to enhance biodiversity, produce a harvestable surplus, and reduce beaver-human conflicts. Beaver management should maximize recreational opportunities and allow landowners to profit from the beaver resource, e.g. through the lease of beaver hunting. Harvest quotas are determined by municipal game boards and divided among landowners according to the amount of beaver habitat they own. Few landowners hunt beaver themselves. Most beaver are shot by hunters with center-fire rifles during spring for recreation and the meat provided. No compensation is paid for beaver damage. Landowners who experience damage by beaver can receive permission to remove dams, lodges and nuisance individuals. Few non-lethal methods of damage control are presently employed. Though problems exist, the success of Norwegian beaver management lies in (1) increasing understanding of the species’ ecological role, (2) the gradual status transformation from nuisance to valuable game animal, and (3) the ease with which nuisance animals can be dealt with. Presently, beaver management incurs few costs to the public while beaver hunting is increasing in popularity, along with income to landowners.