Thursday, 3 July 2014

On the River Otter: DEFRA considers 'rehoming' beavers

Following on from stories about an imminent 'cull' of wild beavers on the River Otter:
Futures Forum: On the River Otter: DEFRA considers a beaver cull?

DEFRA is now considering putting the beavers in a zoo - in a report from earlier today:

Beavers to be captured from River Otter in Devon

By Western Daily Press | Posted: July 03, 2014

Beavers spotted in the River Otter in Devon are to be trapped and moved to a zoo or wildlife park

Beavers living in the River Otter in Devon are to be captured and rehomed, George Eustice has confirmed.

But the announcement has prompted a storm of protest, with conservationists accusing fishermen of acting selfishly.

Responding to a written question by shadow environment secretary Maria Egagle, Mr Eustice wrote: “We intend to recapture and rehome the wild beavers in Devon and are currently working out plans for the best way to do so. All decisions will be made with the welfare of the beavers in mind. There are no plans to cull beavers.”

First badgers now Defra sets sights on beavers on River Otter in Devon
Beaver family enjoys life on River Otter in Devon
Somerset floods: Beavers have the right idea, say experts
Defra investigating sighting of wild beavers - but wouldn't comment on culling them
Excitement as beaver spotted by the Otter

The sight of a family of beavers on the river in east Devon delighted conservationists when they were spotted earlier this year. A video confirmed the presence of the group, the first seen in England for around 500 years.

In May, Defra confirmed it was investigating the animals' presence, months after it offered failed to rule out a cull, and is now working with Natural England and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency to decide on the best way forward.

“Depending on the source of the animals, they could be carrying a disease not currently present in the UK,” a spokesman for the agency said. In addition, beavers have not been an established part of our wildlife for the last 500 years. Our landscape and habitats have changed since then and we need to assess the impact they could have.”

But Peter Burgess, conservation manager at the Devon Wildlife Trust, said the charity would like to see the beavers remain on the River Otter. “The one thing we need to make absolutely clear is we do not want to see reintroduction of species happen in this way but now they are here and on the river, we want them to remain,” he told Mail Online.

“It is only acceptable if it is proven that they are disease-free, the community need to agree if they want to have these animals on their doorstep. And there needs to be an organisation or affiliated group which has got the responsibility to look after them and learn as much as possible about them. We have got a huge amount to learn about what these beavers could do for us.”

Devon-based wildlife consultant Derek Gow, who was responsible for three imported beavers destined for an animal sanctuary in Scotland before one escaped six years ago, is a long-standing campaigner for the animals to be returned to the wild.

He said: “At the moment they are ringing all the zoos and asking them if they will take the beavers. What Defra should do is look at a more informative project where by the beavers are left and studied – it becomes an English beaver trial.”

He blamed angling groups for demanding the beavers be removed. “Why should three beavers be three beavers too many?,” he said. “This will be the first time in history that we have exterminated a native mammal twice, setting an extraordinary historical precedent.”

Beavers to be captured from River Otter in Devon | Western Daily Press
BBC News - Wild beavers spotted in Devon to be 'rehomed'
Damning verdict for wild beavers | The Times

Petitions have been set up:
Two petitions call for Devon beavers to remain at large | Western Morning News
Petition launched to keep East Devon’s beavers wild | Exeter Express and Echo
Petition demanding that Defra leave the beavers on the Otter takes off fast - Claire Wright

Leave the beavers on the river Otter alone. Do not cull, remove or disturb them in any way

    1. bernice cullimore
    3. Petition by
      Grantham, United Kingdom
A family of three wild beavers is living in the River Otter, Devon. When the beavers were spotted earlier this year it was the first sighting of its kind in 500 years, but the Government is planning to round them up and put them in a zoo.
Environment Minister George Eustice told Parliamemt: "We intend to recapture and rehome the wild beavers in Devon and are currently working out plans for the best way to do so."
Beavers used to be wild in the UK but where hunted to extinction in the 16th century. It is not known where the Devon beavers come from, but beaver expert Derek Gow says a lot could be learnt from observing them in the wild. [1] Trapping them would be could be traumatic and risks killing the young. 
This family of beavers have not disturbed anyone, and I believe they should be left in the wild. Please sign my petition to tell the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to leave the River Otter beavers alone. 
[1] Guardian - Wild beavers seen in England for first time in centuries

Petition | Leave the beavers on the river Otter alone. Do not cull, remove or disturb them in any way | Change.org

And Ottery Cllr Claire Wright has written to MP Hugo Swire:

Hugo Swire urged to push for consultation over beaver removal

Wednesday, 02 July 2014 2 Comments by Claire

I have asked East Devon’s MP, Hugo Swire, to urge Defra to consult with local people, before making any final decisions on relocating the beavers on the river Otter.

I received an email today from a member of his staff, confirming that he is to meet with Lord De Mauley, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Science, next week to discuss the issue.

Mr Paterson has not yet replied to Mr Swire about my initial concerns about capturing the animals. I am informed that a reply is expected imminently however.

A letter from Lord De Mauley to the Angling Trust - link below - reveals that the Scottish beaver trial will finish next year and Scottish ministers have already decided to introduce the beaver there…. so why is our government so massively overreacting to a tiny (so as to be virtually theoretical) risk of a tapeworm?

Certainly, the Angling Trust have been lobbying Mr Paterson hard on the reintroduction of beavers. However, it seems that many local fisherman are actually happy to leave the creatures alone.

Beavers are strict vegetarians and contrary to popular belief they do not eat fish.

They have been extinct in this country for about five hundred years, thanks to man’s obsession with their luxurious fur.

They can help with purifying water and offset flood risks.

And they are a native species!

Evidence suggests that previously wild beavers tend to die in zoos.

I cannot see any logic whatsoever for removing them like this.

The most obvious way forward is to monitor them carefully and see what impact (if any) they have over a number of years. Why can’t our ministers be as sensible as the Scottish ministers?

Link to the letter from Lord De Mauley is here, as well as the Angling Trust’s reaction to plans to remove the animals -http://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?itemid=2189&itemTitle=Angling+Trust+Welcomes+Action+to+Remove+Beavers+from+Devon+River&section=29&sectionTitle=Angling+Trust+News

The story has gone viral very quickly, after it was broken by the Western Morning News on Monday. So far I have seen most, if not all, the national newspapers cover it, as well as the Ecologist, the New Statesman and other specialist publications.

BBC Spotlight ran a story last night and I have been inundated with messages from people all over the country who have pledged their support for the animals remaining on the river.

All bar one or two the local people I have spoken to are in favour of them staying put.

Let’s hope Defra sees sense.

Hugo Swire urged to push for consultation over beaver removal - Clare Wright.

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