Campaigners hail beavers reprieve

Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Beavers will be allowed to continue living wild on a river in Devon after government agency Natural England gave the green light to a five year trial.

A licence will be issued to Devon Wildlife Trust to monitor and manage the impact of the beavers on the River Otter.

The trial is subject to confirmation the aquatic mammals are free of a parasite, and are Eurasian beavers – the same species that was once widespread in the UK but hunted to extinction several hundred years ago.

The beavers have been in the river for at least three years, though there are suggestions they may have been there for up to a decade. Evidence first emerged this year that they had produced young, known as kits.

Ministers had said they intended to capture, test for disease and re-home in captivity the beavers, b ut the move was opposed by wildlife experts who put forward plans for a five year trial scheme for the beavers, with the support of local people.

Andrew Sells, Natural England chairman, said: “Reintroduction of a species is a complicated and emotive subject and we have considered this application very carefully.

“Responses to our written consultation and public meetings have been generally positive and we are now satisfied with Devon Wildlife Trust’s plans for managing and monitoring the project, which will allow important evidence to be gathered during the trial on any impacts which the beavers may have.”

Harry Barton, chief executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, said: ” We are delighted by Natural England’s decision to grant us a licence to give these beavers a long term future on the River Otter.

“This is an historic moment. The beavers of the River Otter are the first breeding population in the English countryside for hundreds of years.

“We believe they can play a positive role in the landscapes of the 21st century through their ability to restore our rivers to their former glories.

“We know from our own research and research done in Europe that beavers are excellent aquatic-engineers improving the flood and drought resilience of our countryside and increasing the water quality of our rivers.”

Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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