Beavers were almost extinct in Germany a century ago. Now they're back.
Beaver meat is tasty and their fur is warm -- two reasons why the beaver almost became extinct in Germany by the end of the 19th century. Conservation projects and targeted repopulation have increased their numbers since then, and there are many places where they can be observed, such as the "Dübener Heide" nature park near Leipzig in the eastern state of Saxony, or the "Feldberger Seenlandschaft" park in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The observer can hide in a small wooden shed with viewing cutouts, and with a bit of luck watch beavers at work. In the Spessart mountain range in southwestern Germany, groups run beaver excursions to inspect signs of activity such as gnawed trees and dams. An impressive beaver colony can be seen on Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria. "The lodge is five meters long and three meters high," says Heinz-Jürgen Pohl, the local beaver expert. Up to six beavers live together here. "You can see into the lodge, especially in the winter when there are no reeds or leaves on the trees. There's a 50-50 chance of spotting a beaver," says Pohl, who offers guided tours.
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