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Public: ‘Keep the beavers’

PUBLISHED: 15:00 22 August 2014

Wild beavers in the River Otter. Picture by Tom Buckley.

Wild beavers in the River Otter. Picture by Tom Buckley.

Archant

RESIDENTS gave their overwhelming support to keep beavers on the River Otter but the group leading the charge have several obstacles before the creatures can call it home.

Two hundred members of the community including, landowners and farmers attended the consultation throughout the day to hear the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) proposals at the Institute on Tuesday.

Conservation Manager Peter Burgess told the public that it would take a responsible organisation to man manage the beavers.

Mr Burgess said: “Non intervention is not an option, they (the beavers) have an impact from floods to dams, this needs management.”

He stressed that they needed to discover if the Beavers are the Eurasian kind from Europe and not its Native American counterparts.

The five point plan includes understanding the size of the population, the interaction between the beavers and the land and increase awareness in the community.

The evening included a series of talks from Exeter University Professor Bryony Coles, Mark Elliott DWT Project Manager and Peter Burgess DWT Conservation Manager.

An open forum concluded the evening with experts answering any questions or concerns audience members had about the reintroduction and whether humans and beavers can live side by side.

Professor Bryony Coles said: “They soon get used to each other. I have some footage of Beavers living at the bottom of someone’s garden in the Netherlands.

“They are getting on fine, people are not sticking their fingers in the dams.”

Coaylton Raleigh resident and Sidmouth GP Sally Dutson said: “I have just got back from Africa where they have lions in their back gardens and here in the UK we are debating over a beaver?

“It just seems a bit rich that we preach conservation but we cannot let it happen here.”

The DWT has received worldwide attention with over 33,000 people signing their online petition and though the proposed plans will cost tens of thousands of pounds, the charity say it is worth it to bring the beaver to the River Otter.

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