Reappearance of the Eurasian beaver Castor fiber L. in Tuscany (Central Italy): the success of unauthorised releases?
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Free-lance wildlife technician, Monteriggioni (SI), Italy
Free-lance wildlife technician, Roccastrada (GR), Italy
CREA Research Centre for Plant Protection and Certification, Via di Lanciola 12⁄a, Cascine del Riccio, 50125, Firenze, Italy
CNR-IRET, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – Istituto di Ricerca sugli Ecosistemi Terrestr,I Via Madonna del Piano 10, 50019, Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Italy
Online publication date: 2021-07-06
Publication date: 2021-07-06
Corresponding author
Emiliano Mori   

Università degli Studi di Siena
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2021;32(2):182-185
In this short report, we documented the reappearance of the Eurasian beaver Castor fiber L. for the first time in Tuscany (Central Italy). After the detection of unequivocal signs of presence, we confirmed the occurrence of beavers through camera trapping. Genetic analyses (cytochrome-b mitochondrial gene) and hair microstructure confirmed it as the Eurasian species. The reports given here extend the current known range about 530 km south to the known extent of occurrence of this species. The presence of a relict population in this area is almost unlikely, despite being quite far from the nearest village; we therefore may suggest that the individuals occurring in Tuscany may be the result of local unauthorized releases. A precise number of free-ranging beavers remain unknown though at least two individuals are suspected to occur, based on body size. Apart from records of adult individuals, the presence of at least one juvenile suggests that reproduction in the wild may have occurred in 2020. Immediate actions should be promoted to monitor potential expansion, preserve this population, and/or to limit impacts on ecosystems and conflict with human activities.
Authors would like to thank a local fisherman, Alessandro Cilli, who first discovered some possible signs of presence along the river Ombrone, Stefano Morelli and Filomena Petrera, agents of the Siena Provincial Police, who reported us the possible presence and cooperated in the field investigations and Dr. Pio Federico Roversi, who kindly informed us on the new legal provisions on reports of alien species affecting native or cultivated plants in Italy. Duncan Halley, Frank Rosell, and Alexander Saveljev kindly provided us with useful recommendations for field work and laboratory analyses. Thanks to Giulia Torrini for her help in the laboratory analyses concerning hair microstructure and to Andrea Boscherini for the first record in Sansepolcro. Two anonymous reviewers kindly took the time to provide us with useful comments which improved significantly our manuscript.
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