A wildlife charity is urging the public to throw its weight behind plans to reintroduce beavers to rivers across England before a government consultation closes in a little over a week’s time.
The consultation to decide whether a programme to fully reintroduce beavers following several trials will close on 17 November. The dam-building rodents were hunted to extinction in England 400 years ago, but have now successfully colonised a number of rivers, including the River Otter in east Devon.
The Devon Wildlife Trust is calling on people to support its “bring back beavers” campaign on its website or by filling a consultation form on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website.
Beaver dams have been shown to help filter water pollutants, reduce flood risk by breaking up water flows following heavy rain, and create new carbon-sequestering wetlands. They can have a cascade of benefits for other species such as dragonflies, otters, kingfishers and water voles which thrive in the habitats they create.
The Devon Wildlife Trust led the programme to reintroduce the first wild population of beavers to an English river in 2015. There are now thought to be 20 family groups living on the River Otter in east Devon, and they were given permanent permission to stay in August 2020.
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Beavers are a “missing piece”
Mark Elliott has been part of Devon Wildlife Trust’s beaver work since its beginning and says:
Beavers once flourished in the nation’s rivers and streams, but hunting led to their extinction around 400 years ago. In the centuries since they’ve been badly missed. Our rivers are now in a terrible state and their wildlife is struggling.
Beavers build dams and create wetlands – the perfect conditions for countless other species to flourish in. They are a missing piece in our nature and now we have the chance to get them back in rivers across England, not just here in a corner of Devon. We urge as many people as possible to back the beaver.
Elliot also said:
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While we are encouraged by the signals from Government, it’s also vital that the levels of public support for beavers is made clear. Recent flood and pollution events have shown that our rivers and wetlands are in a desperate state.
Beavers are one of the natural solutions which can help us in tackling these issues. But to do that we need an ambitious plan for reintroduction, one in which beavers can be returned to river catchments throughout England.
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