Beavers and Canada go hand-in-hand. In fact, they are literally the country's national animal. But it's worth remembering that these busy creatures have a range and history that extends much further around the world.
Like, say, Italy? Bella beavers? It's true!
While our version—the North American beaver—is a species that is found throughout nearly all of Canada and the United States, the Eurasian beaver is also a common sight in much of Eastern Europe and Northcentral Asia. It used to be even more common, but centuries of hunting in the Middle Ages removed them from much of Western and Central Europe.
Now a recent sighting in northeast Italy is proving that beavers are slowly reclaiming their old stomping grounds.
Say 'cheese sticks'!
The sighting occurred in the forests of Travisiano, which is right near the borders of Austria and Slovenia. Scientists had set up a camera there to research wild otters. Imagine their surprise when a stockier brown furry friend wandered into the frame, instead!
According to the Italian website, Il Globo, the beaver is a male and has been given the nickname 'Ponta', after Renato Pontarini, the person who caught him on camera. Ponta has been seen several times of the last few days, meaning this is no fluke.
Beavers are back in Italy after 500 years!
Following the river
Anytime an animal returns to an area where they haven't been living in centuries, the natural question is: How? Though beavers have not been reintroduced in Italy, conservationists have been bringing them back through much of Central Europe.
Since the 1980s, beavers have been returned to many spots on the Danube, a huge river that is Europe's second longest. The Danube begins in Germany and hits nine other countries—as well as many important cities—as it journeys eastward to the Black Sea.
Though Italy is not one of those countries, the Danube system is relatively close enough that scientists believe this beaver is related to these efforts. If that is the case, this is great news indeed—it means that these beavers are not only surviving, they're thriving.
Take a peek for yourself at Ponta quietly doing his thing in the Italian wild.