Beaver colony to be trapped and tested

One of the River Otter beavers. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust

One of the River Otter beavers. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust - Credit: Archant

A group of beavers living wild on the River Otter will be trapped and tested for disease ‘within weeks’, a wildlife charity has confirmed.

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) says that providing the animals are disease-free, it hopes to begin its planned ‘wild beaver project’ by Wednesday, April 1.

The project, which is the first of its kind in England, will monitor the environmental, economic and social impact of the rodents over five years – and could pave the way for the reintroduction of wild beavers elsewhere in the country.

Peter Burgess, conservation manager at DWT, told the Herald that trappers will be out on the River Otter in the coming weeks.

Experts estimate there are at least eight of the animals on the Otter - including a family group of six or seven - but will not know exactly how many are present until they are trapped.

Each animal will be tested for disease, including a parasite not currently present in the UK, before being tagged and then released back in to the wild.

Peter said that any of the animals that tested positive for the parasite would be ‘humanely euthanised’, but he added there was a ‘miniscule chance’ of that happening.