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A review of the historical and current status of American Beaver (Castor canadensis) on Prince Edward Island, Canada

Rosemary Curley, David L. Keenlyside, Helen E. Kristmanson, Randall L. Dibblee


Evidence supporting the native status of American Beaver (Castor canadensis) on Prince Edward Island (PEI) before European contact in 1534 has yet to be established; however, the postglacial and archaeological records have not previously been reviewed in this context. We demonstrate the coincidence of a land bridge between the mainland and PEI and the occurrence of beavers in the region dating between 9500 and 5000 BP (before present, with present defined as 1950). We provide an archaeological record of 14 beaver incisors in six locations, deposited between 500 and 1650 AD and also show that beavers could swim to PEI. Based on this evidence, we conclude that beavers were native to the province. The current population, originating via reintroductions from New Brunswick, has populated much of the available habitat and engendered considerable controversy.


American Beaver; Castor canadensis; status; dispersal; Prince Edward Island; history; archaeology

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