Switzerland beaver compensation bid turned down

File image of a beaver being released into the wild. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The destructive habits of beavers are proving too expensive for some Swiss localities

Swiss MPs have turned down a canton's pleas for extra money to pay for damage caused by beavers.

The northern canton of Thurgau is home to around 500 beavers, and they cause significant damage to trees, crops and roads, the Tribune de Geneve news website reports. Although the state pays for damage to crops, Switzerland's cantons have to foot the bill for roads and drains damaged by the animals, at a cost of over 1m Swiss francs ($1m; £703,000) per year. Beaver dams can cause waterways to become blocked, leading to the destruction of drainage culverts and roads.

Thurgau's politicians believe they are on the receiving end of more than their fair share of repair bills, and submitted a bid for compensation to the Council of States - one of the two houses of the Swiss national parliament. Brigitte Haberli, who represents Thurgau in the council, pointed out that their small canton is home to one fifth of Switzerland's beaver population and is "becoming overcrowded". Her colleague, Roland Eberle, said the plea for extra cash "wasn't unreasonable". But the council as a whole thought differently and defeated the motion by 20 votes to 17.

Beavers are a protected species in Switzerland after they were hunted to extinction centuries ago, but reintroduced during the 1950s. However, the rejection of the compensation request is likely to hurt the beaver population, supporters of the motion say. Landowners are already illegally destroying dams to protect their property, the 20 Minutes news portal reports.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The state pays for damage to crops and trees, but local authorities are on their own for other repair bills

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