The Beaver’s Journey

New home

The first beavers that were transferred from Norway to Sweden arrived at their new home on July 6, 1922. The day's program included lectures by Eric Festin on the beaver's history in Sweden, how the beaver project came to be, and what significance it had. At 3:30 in the morning, under the rising sun of northern Sweden, the beavers were released from the cage and quickly disappeared into the water with a splash of the tail.

There were 19 people who witnessed the big day. All were men, with the exception of one woman, 16-year-old Emma Karolina Jonasson from Leipvikvattnet, who was with her father and brothers. Women were not often involved in the beaver project, but we know there were some. In 1925, when a pair of beavers were released in Görvik, Sweden, photographs show that women were involved. One was Märta Eugenia (Gena) Brännholm (1890-1954) who was a teacher at Görvik school. Hanna Vinberg, who took pictures of the beaver reintroduction in Görvik, was a teacher at Görvik school after Gena Brännholm.

Groups around Sweden heard about the first beaver introduction in 1922 and wrote to Eric Festin to find out how to do the same in their areas.

Västerbottens läns jaktvårdsförening (VLJ), an association of conservation-minded hunters in northern Sweden, was one of the first. Axel Sylvén (1872-1927), who was VLJ's leader, established a fundraiser and convinced others to support the beaver project.

May we, however, hope for success for the endeavor and live to see the day when the beaver has reinhabited its old homes, which now for a whole century have stood empty and abandoned, only a reminder of where human folly and predatory lust can lead - a reminder perhaps necessary in the present time, when other species of wildlife are also seriously threatened by the same, of the beavers' sad fate.

Axel Sylvén

Eight beavers were purchased by P.M. Jenssen — three of them died in transit, but the others were taken to Tärnaån in northern Sweden. Per Axel Anderson, who wrote about VLJ's release in July 1924, thought the area was "ideal" as a new "Bäverland".

Between 1921 and 1928, 51 beavers (excluding 5 which died before they could be released) were introduced into Sweden to 19 places. All of these came from the Åmli area and P.M. Jenssen. In 1935 Jenssen followed the expedition to Mörsil in Jämtland and Laxå in Örebro. When Jenssen died in 1963, Arne Tjomsland wrote that Jenssen had told him that ‘they must have a last greeting in Norwegian when they are released so far from home’.