‘Ground-breaking’ decision allows River Otter beavers to stay
- Credit: Alex Walton Photography
The colony of wild beavers living on the River Otter will be allowed to stay permanently.
The announcement by Defra has been described by the Devon Wildlife Trust as ‘the most ground-breaking government decision for England’s wildlife for a generation’.
It follows a five-year project by the trust, overseeing the beavers and their impacts on the environment, which concluded that their presence had been good for people and wildlife.
Their dams in the river have reduced flood risk in some areas, and improved the water quality by filtering out pollutants. The river’s fish, birds, insects and mammal populations have benefited from better natural habitats.
Although the report highlighted some localised problems for a small number of landowners, it found that they had been successfully managed with support and intervention from Devon Wildlife Trust.
You may also want to watch:
The study also found that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of people would like to see beavers, a native species, returning to the country’s waterways.
The River Otter beavers were first discovered in 2013 and it is not clear where they came from.
- 1 Village pub landlord helps feed vulnerable members of community
- 2 Latest planning applications in East Devon
- 3 4 common roofing problems and how you can fix them
- 4 Property of the Week: The Manse, Seaton
- 5 Charity plant fair with plenty for gardeners and growers to enjoy
- 6 Keeping in time with the rest of the country
- 7 British Legion branch appeals for help to avoid closure
- 8 Town group marks national u3a day in style
- 9 Council takes pride in flag outside headquarters
- 10 Virtual work experience programme for young people in region
At first they were threatened with removal by Defra, which feared they could carry diseases.
But the Devon Wildlife Trust successfully campaigned for a five-year trial to monitor the beavers, and this was granted. There are now around 15 family groups living on and around the river.
The trust hopes the successful trial will pave the way for beavers to be re-introduced in other parts of the country.
Peter Burgess, Director of Conservation at Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “This is the most ground-breaking government decision for England’s wildlife for a generation. Beavers are nature’s engineers and have the unrivalled ability to breathe new life into our rivers and wetlands. Their benefits will be felt throughout our countryside, by wildlife and people.”
Mark Elliott from the trust has led the charity’s beaver work since its beginnings in 2010. He said: “Whilst this announcement by Defra is very welcome, it’s now vital that decisions are made on the national status of beavers that allow them to be reintroduced into other river systems in England.
“There also needs to be funding to support landowners who wish to allow beavers to restore wetlands on their land, and to assist landowners who do not wish beavers to affect their farming practices.”