Have your say on future of wild beavers

PUBLISHED: 13:31 09 January 2015

Archant

The future of a family of beavers living wild on the River Otter will be the topic of discussion at a meeting next week – and residents are invited along to show their support.

The event at the Ottery Scout Centre in Winters Lane will form part of a consultation by Natural England on whether to grant a licence, which will allow the animals to be released back into the wild.

If successful, the licence application from Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) will allow the rodents to be trapped, tested for disease and then legally returned to their home, just downstream from Ottery.

The animals are believed to be England’s only example of beavers living in the wild and DWT hopes that their release will allow the charity to start a pioneering five-year project which will monitor the animals and assess their impact on the environment.

Dan Smith, from the charity, said the meeting at 6.30pm on Wednesday, January 14, would be a chance for people to learn more about the organisation’s plans, as well as an opportunity for the community to show its support for the animals to remain.

He said: “It’s absolutely important that the local community go along and have their chance to put their views across.

“We’d definitely encourage anyone who wants to see the beavers remain on the river to attend and make their views known.”

In July, government officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced plans to ‘recapture and rehome’ the animals because they could be carrying a disease not currently present in the UK.

But DWT hopes that if its licence application is successful, and the beavers are found not to be carrying any disease, officers at Defra will reconsider their position and allow the animals 
to stay.

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