The construction of burrows and passageways by beavers in the flood defence dike of the Dijle north of Leuven poses a risk of damage to the dike and possible flooding of the underlying areas that are lower than the water level of the Dijle. During an inspection in 2015, De Vlaamse Waterweg nv (before 2018: W&Z) found a number of burrows with their opening under the waterline. Geographically speaking, this concerns three clusters of beaver burrows. The following questions are topical:
- How many beavers are there and is it indeed three families given the geographical distribution of the burrows?
- What is the role of the adjacent meanders?
- To what extent can preventive measures and/or strategic management (tolerating beavers at suitable locations in order to avoid worse) contribute to making the risks manageable?
The Dijle forms a core zone for the beaver population. However, the experiences gained from this study will also be useful in other locations in Flanders where similar situations occur.
The most important questions that are now pressing are the following:
- How far are beavers moving from the meanders and on the Dijle?
- How do the beavers react to preventive measures taken against damage to the dams?
- To what extent is VHF/ GPS telemetry a good, feasible and efficient research tool for future research to answer these questions?