River Otter beavers are ‘very much alive’

One of the River Otter beavers. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust

One of the River Otter beavers. Picture: Devon Wildlife Trust - Credit: Archant

Devon Wildlife Trust reveals new proof the wild creatures are still active

Experts have discovered fresh evidence dispelling concerns that England’s only wild beaver colony had ‘disappeared’ from the River Otter.

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) was granted a licence to monitor the creatures after a lengthy campaign which culminated in the re-release of the creatures in March 2015, but a screening of a BBC programme sparked speculation they had ‘upped sticks’.

The footage implied that people - and particularly dogs - disturbing the beavers had forced them away, but DWT has now released proof that the colony is in fact ‘very much alive’.

DWT is leading the five-year River Otter Beaver Trial.

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Trial manager Mark Elliott said: “We knew the beavers had not ‘disappeared’, but it’s good to be able to report recent evidence showing that they are still active on the river.

“Beavers are mobile animals and it’s quite common for them to shift their lodges and feeding grounds. There’s lots of room for beavers on this river so it’s unsurprising they have relocated.”

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The charity ran a series of beaver walks along the river which were fully subscribed in 2015. It plans to run more next year to meet demand, but warns people not to expect sightings in winter.

Mark added: “Beavers are largely nocturnal animals so they are difficult to see during winter when the nights are long.

“At this time, we’re keeping the locations of the new beaver sites a secret to ensure that disturbance to the animals and landowners is kept to a minimum.”

DWT is encouraging people who do spot beaver activity to get in touch via email at beavers@devonwildlifetrust.org, noting details of the date, time, exact location and whether the beaver has a coloured ear tag. People can also support the project by visiting www.devonwildlifetrust.org/devons-wild-beavers-appeal/

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