When the beavers were first discovered to be breeding in February 2014. Defra announced its intention to capture and remove the animals citing the risk to human health from a tape-worm that European beavers are known to carry, but which is not currently present in the UK. Defra’s decision sparked an overwhelming response from local people, with the vast majority showing their support for the beavers to remain.
Natural England (the Government's official advisor on the natural environment) has granted Devon Wildlife Trust a five year licence to monitor the beavers which could mean that they remain in the wild in the long term.
As part of the licence a number of beavers were brought into captivity in order for health checks to be made. This process has been overseen by Defra with expert advice from leading zoological and beaver experts. Having gained a clean bill of health the beavers are now back on the river, a move which signals the start of the five year project in which the animals will be monitored for their impacts on local communities, landscape and wildlife.
The re-release took place on the evening of Monday 23 March 2015.
This was a key moment in the history of modern conservation and has come after months of hard work trying to secure a long term future for the animals.
It's been wonderful seeing the River Otter beavers featured on the BBC tv programme Springwatch 2016.
Evidence of beaver activity can be seen along the River Otter from Budleigh Salterton upstream to Honiton, a distance of around 12 miles. Our most recent sighting of one of the beavers was on Wednesday 8th April. There are footpaths along the river and as our photographs show, good views are possible.
To find out more visit the Devon Wildlife Trust website: www.devonwildlifetrust.org/devons-wild-beavers-appeal