It’s official - beavers are back

PUBLISHED: 07:24 28 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:04 30 March 2015

Free at last: One of the beavers swims away after being released in to the River Otter this week. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust

Free at last: One of the beavers swims away after being released in to the River Otter this week. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust

Archant

A nine-month battle to allow England’s only wild beaver family to remain on the River Otter came to a close this week, after the animals were safely returned home.

One of the beavers sporting its new tracking tags. Picture: Nick Upton.One of the beavers sporting its new tracking tags. Picture: Nick Upton.

The group of four adults and one baby was released back into the river following a series of tests.

Devon Wildlife Trust will now monitor the environmental impact of the animals in a five-year project – which, if successful, could pave the way for the wider reintroduction of beavers in the wild.

A spokesman from the charity said the group was ‘delighted and relieved’ to see the animals returned to their home downstream from Ottery St Mary.

He said: “The first obstacle to keeping wild beavers in Devon was to persuade the Government not to remove them - we’ve won that battle.

“The next major challenge is funding the five-year River Otter Beaver Trial.”

The beavers had been in captivity since they were captured by expert trappers on March 10.

To comply with a government licence, tests were carried to ensure they were free from tapeworm, Bovine TB and a range of other infectious diseases not currently present in the UK.

A DNA test was also carried out, which confirmed they were native Eurasian beavers, and will also reveal at a later date whether the animals are related to each other.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Alasdair Cameron, who had fought against government plans to permanently remove the animals, said: “The return of these beavers is fantastically exciting and a great success for all those who fought for them to remain in the wild.

“Let us hope it is just the start. We should bring beavers back to other parts of the UK where they used to live and look at boosting or returning other species too - from the pine marten to the lynx.”


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