Culling is regarded by conservationists as a last resort, only to be employed when other methods of control are not feasible.
In EU countries beaver is currently a protected species and so cannot usually be killed. However licences can be given by the appropriate authorities to allow lethal control to be undertaken where problems arise.
In Germany, with areas of intensive agricultural production, a couple of hundred beaver are culled each year under licence. Furthermore, special derogations that permit culling have been granted to several newly acceding EU members from Central Europe where beaver populations are well established. In Sweden, a hunting season runs from October to May, taking 6% of the population annually.
In Norway, a non-EU country, beaver are common in many areas and regarded as a game animal. A hunting season is allowed in areas with well established populations – taking around 10% of the population annually. The meat is regarded as a delicacy and the fur is used for hats and waistcoats.
As their populations grow throughout Europe, there will be strong arguments for removal of beaver from its current protected status. See the legalities section for more information.