Went out to do some shopping in Innsbruck by bike today, and on the way back, stopped to take a few photos as the Inn is unusually low.
But the real surprise came a little further down stream, we started to see trees that looked as though someone had been chopping at them with a very small axe. On closer inspection, these turned out to be teeth marks on the tree trunks, and some trees almost chewed through, a clear sign that there are beavers (Castor fiber) in the area. Neither Ulli nor I had heard anything about there being Beavers on the river Inn before, the only ones that we were aware of were those in the Alpenzoo in Hungerburg, and those are American beavers (Castor canadensis). Yes, we had heard about beavers on the Danube, but not on the Inn or in any part of western Austria.
It seemed highly unlikely that these are beavers from the Alpenzoo, which have been nipping out down the Hungerburgbahn to the river for a snack, so this has to be a local wild population. So, I felt the need to do a little bit of research into the subject. Apparently, beavers were hunted to extinction in Austria in the 19th century, the last beaver in Tirol was killed in 1813 and the last one in the whole of Austria was shot in 1863 on the Danube east of Vienna.
In the 1970s and 80s, there were a number of beaver reintroductions in Austria, starting with the Danube near Vienna and then near Salzburg. Between 1976 and 1982 approximately 40 beavers were released (Sieber 1999). The beavers went on to found populations across Lower and Upper Austria, in to Slovakia, and some even in Vienna it’s self. But the beavers on the Inn that we saw haven’t come from those reintroductions. Currently, there are around 475 beavers in Tirol, which have found their own way there from Germany.
Given the high-volume nature of the river Inn, these beavers aren’t going to be damming it, but they have built a lodge on the far side of the river from the cycle path.
Update: more beaver news here.