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Reports www.dailymail.co.uk To read the full article click here. Have you seen a water vole? What needs to be done to the UK's rivers and streams to encourage their return?
inyathi posted a topic in World wildlifeOnce in the distant past the European Beaver Castor fiber was widespread throughout Europe including Britain but over hunting for their furs and for castoreum a yellowish secretion produced in the beaver’s castor sac that is used in perfume led to their extinction here. The last reference to a beaver in England is from 1526 though they survived in Scotland somewhat longer, finally dying out around 200 yrs ago. While almost every other country in Europe has already reintroduced beavers re-establishing populations in 24 countries in which they had become extinct the UK has dithered we along with Lichtenstein, Montenegro and Italy remain the only countries in Western Europe never to have reintroduced beavers. The complete absence of fossil evidence indicates that beavers never reached Ireland. As with other locally extinct native mammals there has been almost endless talk of reintroducing them for decades but this has never got anywhere largely because of opposition from landowners and fishermen who believe that beavers have a negative impact on migratory fish. Until that is it was decided to carry out a trial reintroduction on the Knapdale Estate in the West of Scotland in 2009 16 beavers from Norway were ultimately released and their impact on the environment was studied for 5 yrs this was done on the basis that if the impact was negative the beavers would be captured and removed. The results however have been positive and as a result permission will be sought from the Scottish Government to allow them to stay. Meanwhile over in the East of Scotland on the River Tay people started to report the presence of wild beavers no one knows where they came from and how they got there. It has been suggested that a private breeder or breeders got fed up with waiting for Scottish Natural Heritage to grant permission for beavers to be released and went ahead and released some illegally. However according to the Scottish Beaver Group this was not the case and the beavers simply escaped whatever their origins there are now over 150 living wild which rather makes a mockery of the Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale. There are also plans for some trial releases of beavers in Wales but local fishermen are not keen, beavers and salmon and other fish happily coexisted in this country for around 11,000yrs so I can't believe they really cause any of the problems that anglers worry about. In England however there were no plans to reintroduce beavers even on a trial basis so at the moment they have only been introduced to certain small fenced nature reserves where they are used as a management tool. However a few years ago rather like on the River Tay in Scotland some beavers just turned up unexpectedly on the River Otter in Devon. Again no one knows where they came from or how they got there although the suspicion is that someone got impatient decided that Natural England weren’t go to grant anyone a licence to release beavers in England so went ahead anyway. Or they may have just escaped but no one has reported losing any beavers. Whatever the case when DEFRA the Dept of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs learnt of these beavers they initially decided they should be captured and culled because they might be carrying a rare tape worm that affects European beavers and can be passed to humans. This decision led to a public outcry so it was suggested that the beavers would be taken to a zoo instead rather than culled. However after public campaign to allow the beavers to remain in the wild eventually DEFRA relented and agreed that the beavers should be captured tested for the parasite and if clear released back into the River Otter. The beavers and there are now nine of them were duly captured and have tested negative for the tape worm and importantly have passed a second test that confirmed that they are genuine European beavers and not American beavers and as such they have now been released back into the wild where they belong. Natural England has now granted the Devon Wildlife Trust a licence to monitor the beavers for the next 5yrs, hopefully this will mean that beavers are here to stay making our not very wild country just a little bit wilder. Beavers finally return to River Otter in Devon
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