The beavers were first noticed in the park's ponds in the spring, but now their presence is increasingly manifesting itself in the form of damage to trees.
Daiga Lietauniece, head gardener of the Preiļi manor park, told Latvian Radio about the problem, saying: "Here they started to build a dam, then we regularly removed it, then it stopped, but in June they started to munch here and there again, but in September and October they got really angry. You can see the orange [stumps] there, all the young alder trees that have been eaten. The [workers] have cleaned it up, so it doesn't look like a battlefield."
The Preiļi manor park covers more than 40 hectares, of which about 13 hectares are occupied by the park's ponds. There are also several large trees among the trees of the park. So far, the employees have been trying to fight with the unwanted inhabitants of the park, but have not got much in the way of results.
"The guys smeared the rest of the trees with pig fat, with the hope that he [the beaver] won't sneak up on those trees, because he's a herbivore. But today we drove by and we saw that he has started gnawing all the smeared trees again."
The workers next tried to protect the trees by wrapping a metal mesh around them, and regularly break down the dams created by the beavers, but this seems only to encourage the beavers to move to another area of the park and start trashing that instead.
"At the beginning of September, he had started making his dam, started pulling grass, branches, trees inside, which we also dismantled three times, and then he moved to this side," says Daiga Lietauniece.
Beavers damage not only small trees, but they also attack larger ones, the diameter of which is approaching a meter.
"He's started on the big willow near the stables. Maybe there wasn't enough time during the night to cut everything down, but the work has started. We've smeared it, this time not with pig fat, this one is smeared with wax. This tree is very important for this place, because with its roots it holds both the shore and the ruins, so if that tree dies, then perhaps the ruins coud also fall," says the gardener.
Walking by the pond, two of the trees, which were only gnawed a day before, are now already lying down. The beavers are busy indeed. The gardener hopes that a solution will be found as soon as possible to limit their activity.
"What is a park without trees? And to put nets around every tree is not realistic, because there are so many trees in the park. If we put nets even on the closest ones, he won't stop, he will go further, he has no problem pulling a tree from somewhere else," worries Daiga Lietauniece.
In June, representatives of the administration of the Preiļu manor park approached the Hunting Coordination Commission of the municipality of Preiļi County, asking for a permit to hunt beavers, but it was not granted.
Preiļi District Council Chairman Ārijs Vucāns told Latvian Radio: "The head of the Hunting Coordination Commission had discussed this issue with commissions, and in this commission no consensus was reached on issuing such a permit, because there were members of the commission who believed that Preiļi Park is not a hunting area, and so the Hunting Commission cannot issue a permit. In fact, these are legal nuances, as to who bears responsibility."
At the moment, however, seeing that the damage caused by beavers is rapidly increasing in the park, a process has been started that would allow the problem to be solved by attracting hunters, says the chairman. Binding regulations of the municipality on hunting in the city of Preiļi have been developed in order to move or eliminate the beavers living in the park, and they have been adopted at the council meeting, but they still need to be coordinated with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM).
"It will take one month for them to be checked, then accepted by VARAM, which means that in the month of December we will be able to start specific actions regarding beavers. The beaver hunting season is from July 15 to April 15, so if we start these actions in December this year, it means that we have more than three months to solve this issue during this hunting season," says Vucāns.