Argentine officials introduced 25 pairs of beavers from Canada to the South American nation in 1946 in an effort to promote the local fur industry. Now, the county is set to cull 100,000 of the large rodents due to their devastating effect on its southern woodlands.
With no natural predators in the area, the beaver population exploded beyond control, the BBC reports. The beavers’ have officials in the Tierra del Fuego province at their wits’ end.
“They can cut down a small tree in a few hours and a big one in days. We are talking about trees that are 100 or 150 years old and they do not grow back,” said the region’s conservation chief Erio Curto, Phys.org reports.
“They cut down trees on the riverbank so the water overflows and floods everything.”
It’s estimated the beavers, which have been known to cause their share of problems in Canada, have destroyed an area twice the size of Buenos Aires.
Argentina, along with neighbouring Chile, have an agreement in place to exterminate 100,000 beavers, which they estimate will take 10 to 15 years. The cull has the support of the United Nations and environmental groups.