Every country’s economy relies on infrastructure of all types to support agriculture, manufacturing and every other sector. Without trains to move shipments and without dams to keep floodwaters at bay, things could go bad quickly.
Of course, there are always forces at work disrupting that infrastructure. And in the Netherlands, those forces are beavers. According to Dutch News, beavers last year caused about $2 million in damage to dikes and other defense mechanisms against encroaching water from the North Sea. The semiaquatic rodents have also dug out the land beneath train tracks in parts of the country, upending railway operations.
Dutch officials have thrown lots of money at the problems and even resorted to culling the beaver population, but nevertheless, the beaver bill for damages could be even higher in 2022.
Beavers had become extinct in the Netherlands in the early 1800s when the animals were hunted a little too overzealously for their furs and musk. But after being reintroduced to the country in 1988, beavers are back and making their presence felt in the Netherlands.
According to reports, Limburg has seen the worst of the beaver damage; the northern province has been hit with about 85% of the destruction.
Of course, being as busy as they are, beavers have also caused infrastructure issues in other parts of the globe. Last year, residents in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia lost their internet service after beavers ripped fiber optic cables out of the ground and used them to reinforce their dams.
The Dutch government seems well aware of the minor chaos caused by a healthy beaver population but they also recognize animals’ biodiversity benefits. So, it seems like the country is willing to accept the good and the bad of a booming beaver occupation.