Beavers’ ‘disappearance’ not a cause for concern

Healthy beaver kits photographed on the River Otter this week by Sylvie Meller. Ref sho beaver5

Healthy beaver kits photographed on the River Otter this week by Sylvie Meller. Ref sho beaver5 - Credit: Archant

Experts have confirmed beavers have not ‘disappeared’ from the River Otter amid speculation that caused concern this week.

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) was granted a licence to monitor England’s first wild colony of beavers after a lengthy campaign last year which culminated in the re-release of the creatures in March.

The historic case has attracted widespread interest in the animals and the screening of a BBC programme on Monday sparked speculation that people - and particularly dogs - disturbing the beavers has forced them to ‘up sticks’.

In response, DWT issued a statement to confirm it has evidence to show the beavers are still ‘alive and well’ and likely to have merely moved upstream.

The trust reiterated warnings that disturbances from dogs chasing the wild animals is a serious issue and urged walkers to keep their pets under control, stick to set pathways and follow the country code.

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Amateur photographer Tom Buckley has spent many hours studying the colony and shooting footage of the beavers in their natural habitat. He said people were quick to focus on the claim they had ‘disappeared’, while in fact it is more likely they have merely moved to a different burrow. Tom said: “They have been a big attraction and many people have come from all over the place to come and see them, so there would be a lot of people and a lot of activity. I think the beavers have therefore gone to a position where they can have a bit of quiet time.

“I believe they have moved from one burrow to another, but that is completely natural. If they had disappeared, I would be very worried.”

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A DWT spokesman said: “Beavers are very mobile animals and capable of exploring large areas of a river. The River Otter is 30 miles in length, contains lots of suitable beaver habitats and the density of the beaver population is low. This provides great potential for the animals to move location.”

DWT is leading The River Otter Beaver Trial, in conjunction with Clinton Devon Estates, the University of Exeter and the Derek Gow Partnership.

The project relies on survey work and a network of volunteers rather than tracking devices to monitor the colony, making it difficult to know their exact whereabouts. DWT asked members of the public to report sightings of beavers by emailing

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