The Beaver’s Journey

Spreading across Europe

Many places beyond Sweden have released beavers during the 100 years that have passed since the first beaver project in Jämtland. European beavers are now found in most European countries.

In 1928, Latvia imported beavers from P. M. Jenssen that were released into the wilderness. This was so successful that in 1938 Jenssen was invited to visit Latvia to teach the locals about beaver hunting.

In the 1930s, a Finnish hunting inspector visited Åmli, Norway, to study the beaver's biology. He concluded that the ecosystems in Åmli and Finland were so similar that a beaver reintroduction project would succeed.

In 1935, P. M. Jenssen took 10 pairs of beavers from Åmli to Finland and released them into the wild. Two years later, seven North American beavers were also released, even though they were not the same species of beaver that had been in Finland before. The decision to bring beavers from Canada to Finland has subsequently proved to be problematic - they have outcompeted the European beaver and have spread over more than half of Finland.

Beavers from Åmli were also released in other parts of Norway. In 1925, six beavers were released at one of the Nes properties in the Vefsn municipality. Henrik Jacob Ielstrup visited the beaver colony in 1926.

It turned out that the beaver had settled down and had built a large dwelling in about the same place where they were released. The forest around has strong evidence that the beaver was in good vitality.

Henrik Jacob Ielstrup

In 1926, a pair of beavers from Åmli were released by Sognli hunting club in Sør-Trøndelag, with two new pairs added in 1929. The idea was to create a nature park. The beaver was intended to have a role in this. However, by 1961, the beavers from this release had died. A new pair was caught in Åmli and released in 1968, and another pair plus a young beaver were added in 1969.

Even as recently as 2009, beavers released as part of a reintroduction project in Scotland came from Åmli.

These projects with beavers were successful. Although, at the end of the 19th century, there were only a few hundred beavers in Norway and none in Sweden, there are now more than 100,000 beavers in Sweden and Norway.

Beavers have returned to their ecosystems in Scandinavia with the help of people like Eric Festin who organised the beaver release, P. M. Jenssen who caught the beavers, and all those who gave small monetary donations to the collections. Thanks to all their efforts, the beaver is part of Europe's living landscape today.

In 2021, we mark the 100-year anniversary of the beaver’s journey - the first time beavers were caught in Norway and sent to Sweden for reintroduction. The start of a great conservation success story.