ENGLAND'S FIRST WILD BEAVERS IN OVER 400 YEARS! In August 2020, the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England was issued. This legal status was given to the iconic beaver which is now permanently residing on the River Otter in Devon. To celebrate this incredible news, I decided to head down to the River Otter to see the wild beavers for myself! The success of the beaver trial could be an extremely exciting start for the future of rewilding and reintroduction projects throughout the rest of the UK.
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In august 2020, the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England was issued.
This legal status was given to the iconic beaver. To celebrate this incredible news, I decided to head down to the River Otter in Devon to see them for myself.
Beavers first appeared here on the River Otter back in 2008, yet the origin of their release still remains unknown. However, when they first gave birth to kits, back in 2014, the government threatened to have them removed. Devon wildlife trust actually opposed to their removal and instead suggested a five-year study coined the 'River Otter Beaver Trial' in order to monitor their effect on the environment.
Based on the evidence submitted by this trial, which shows how critical beavers are for restoring naturally functioning rivers, which is of utmost important given the climate and ecological emergency that we are currently in, it was ruled that they are allowed to stay here forever.
Down here we actually have our first sign of beaver activity. We're a little bit early to actually see them, but this is a good sign. So what they've been doing is they've been gnawing on this bark over here and you can see all of their chips here on the ground. It's these dam-building abilities which make them such an iconic species. Their dams completely transform waterways, creating new habitats / environments; allowing many
other plants and animals to thrive and this gives them the name of ecosystem engineer or keystone species. Basically, what this means is that they have a disproportionately larger impact on the ecological community in which they occur creating new habitats and having that kind of bottom-up impact on insects, plants, other animals, and creating a thriving, natural habitat that we see here today.
After seeing signs of the beavers, we knew that they were definitely here, so we decided to head a little further down the river until we found what appeared to look like a beaver lodge, so we stopped to set up our cameras and wait. I set up my camera for stills and Charlie used the Sony FS5 to film them and it didn't take long until we then saw the first signs of beaver movement.
After the success of this trial they're now looking at how they can manage beaver populations more widely across the whole of England with reintroductions having already been planned in the Forest of Dean, North Yorkshire, Essex, and Norfolk and this is really exciting because this could potentially be a stepping stone for reintroductions of many other species that we've lost over the years, but if nothing else it's really exciting to say that we now have beavers right on our doorsteps here in England.