Dam good news: Beavers can stay in River Otter


xxxx - Credit: Archant

The future of a family of beavers on the River Otter is looking brighter thanks to an ‘historic’ decision to allow their re-release into the wild.

Campaigners welcomed the ruling from Natural England on Wednesday which grants Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) permission to carry out the managed release of the beavers - if they are free from disease after testing.

The animals are believed to be England’s only breeding population of wild beavers, and the subject of an ongoing campaign to secure their future, which united conservationists, politicians and Ottery residents.

Harry Barton, chief executive of DWT, said he is ‘delighted’ by the decision, which the charity has hailed ‘as a key moment in the history of modern conservation’.

The licence means the charity can go ahead with plans to trap and test the creatures for disease, before re-releasing them, in order to monitor them and their impact on the local environment for the next five years.

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

District and county councillor Claire Wright said: “Hopefully a marker has now been set down which will avoid knee-jerk reactions in the future.

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“If it wasn’t for local people turning out in large numbers and showing their support for the animals, we might have lost the battle to keep them.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “This is great news for Devon’s beavers.

“If, as seems likely, they can now remain in the wild, it will be a major victory for common sense and everyone who has campaigned on their behalf.”

DWT now faces the task of funding its River Otter Beaver Project.

It is asking beaver supporters to donate via its website, www.devonwildlifetrust.org, or by phone on 01392 279244.

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