‘Positive steps’ for beavers

One of the beavers living on the River Otter. Picture by Tom Buckley.

One of the beavers living on the River Otter. Picture by Tom Buckley. - Credit: Archant

A family of beavers living wild on the River Otter could be returned to their home after being tested for disease.

Campaigners from Friends of the Earth (FoE) say that a letter from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) shows that the Government agency could now be willing to release the animals.

Defra has previously said it intends to ‘re-capture and re-home’ the beavers, which are living downstream from Ottery St Mary, because of a risk they are carrying a parasite not currently present in the UK.

FoE says the letter shows Defra is giving sole responsibility for the potential re-release of the beavers to Natural England - a body which has previously indicated its support for seeing the animals returned to the wild.

They also say that Defra plans to test the animals near their home on the Otter, rather than taking them to facilities near York as previously planned.

FoE campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “We’re delighted that the Government appears to be listening to local people who want these beavers to swim freely in their rivers.

“These are positive steps in the right direction – but until this issue is resolved, we will continue to make the case for these beavers to remain free.”

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The animals are believed to be England’s only example of beavers living in the wild.