Inform a friend
Järpen 12 April 2011

The Swedish beaver tracker

Mikael Nilsson Naturarvskompaniet

He has led more than a thousand visitors to the timid beaver in the past ten years. Last year, nearly all visitors saw the animal… as well as experiencing close encounters with elks, deer and foxes. Join the safari in the heart of Bergslagen with Mikael Nilsson – probably Sweden’s best beaver tracker.

In the 19th century, the beaver became extinct in Sweden and it was not until 50 years later, in 1922, that some Norwegian animals were imported and it was reintroduced. Since then, the Swedish beaver population has certainly recovered. In 1960 there were 2,000 animals, 20 years later there were 40,000 individuals and today there are an estimated 150,000 beavers, with the main centre of population in Central Sweden.

Many of us have seen traces of beaver activity, such as felled trees, lodges and ponds. But very few have actually seen the animal itself in the wild. 

Mikael Nilsson has led more than a thousand visitors to the timid beaver in the past ten years.

“That’s not surprising really. The beaver is most active in the evenings and at night, and it’s a very timid animal with excellent hearing and a fine sense of smell,” explains Mikael Nilsson, safari guide at Nordic Discovery. He leads beaver safaris in the forests of the Malingsbo-Kloten nature reserve, a couple of hours by train or car northwest of Stockholm.

A successful beaver safari is about being in the right place at the right time and, not least, being absolutely silent. The slightest noise scares the beaver, who disappears with a loud splash. After diving, it can stay under water for up to 20 minutes.

Beavers are adapted to life in the water, with webbing between their toes and using their flat tails as engines. / Photo: Peter Cairns

“The chances of seeing a beaver are very high. Two years ago, we saw beavers on every tour, and last year was even better with more and closer beaver contacts. During one canoeing trip, we saw several beavers throughout the three hours. But it’s not animals in cages we’re showing, so we never guarantee anything,” says Mikael, before continuing.

“The canoeing is not physically demanding. At times, we’re just gliding through the water, using the paddle to steer. Everyone has to be dead silent and we communicate using only sign language. We’ve had a number of guests who felt that, although seeing the beaver was fun, the best part was canoeing through wild territory in complete silence.”

The beaver safari attracts many Swedes, but also international guests, and particularly from the Netherlands. “There’s a popular fairy tale character in the Netherlands in the form of a beaver. So, for many Dutch children, the beaver is high on the wish list,” says Mikael.  

The beaver safari attracts many Swedes, but also international guests, and particularly from the Netherlands. / Photo: Peter Cairns

Interest is growing in beaver safaris and other wildlife tours. Several of the spring’s beaver package tours (Beaver Safari Package, Bergslagen with Nordic Discovery) are already fully booked. Around ten more beaver safaris are scheduled for the summer. For groups of at least four people, other dates can also be booked.

Easy, climate-smart travel to the Bergslagen beaver safari.
Train to Malmö and then onward by train to Kopparberg, from where Nordic Discovery arranges transport. Simple, but less environmentally sound, is to fly to Stockholm Airport, Arlanda, and then take the train to Kopparberg or Söderbärke.

Links: