Saturday, 9 August 2014

On the River Otter: Devon Wildlife Trust consultation to discuss beavers: Ottery St Mary: Tuesday 19th August

There has been considerable concern expressed over DEFRA's notion of 'what to do with the beavers' on the River Otter:
Futures Forum: On the River Otter: DEFRA considers waiting to test beavers 'until the kits are a suitable age'

There have been arguements for and against:
Futures Forum: On the River Otter: Five reasons why we should [not] reintroduce beavers to Britain's rivers

With the press getting a little overheated:
Futures Forum: On the River Otter: the media behaving badly over beavers

The Devon Wildlife Trust has responded by calling a public meeting to discuss the whole issue:

Local people asked: ‘Do you want beavers to remain?’

Added: 6th August 2014
People are being asked their views about the future of Devon’s first wild beaver population for more than 300 years.
A public meeting is being held to discuss the beavers on Tuesday 19 August at The Institute in the east Devon town of Ottery St Mary (EX11 1HD), close to where the beavers are believed to be living on the River Otter. The host’s, Devon Wildlife Trust, are inviting people to make their views known from 3pm on the day with a formal public meeting scheduled for 7.30pm that evening.
It is not known where the beavers came from or how long they have been on Devon’s River Otter, although anecdotal evidence suggests they may have been resident for several years. Nor is it clear how many animals are present. Recent film footage of the beavers’ broadcast on BBC1 shows adults and kits (baby beavers), suggesting that a breeding population has established itself.  
In July, Defra announced its intention to catch and remove the beavers, citing the risk of disease and the animals’ potential impact on the landscape as reasons.
However, a growing number of voices have stated that the beavers should remain; saying that beavers were once a part of the English landscape and that they could be again. The beavers’ supporters cite the role the animals could potentially play in flood alleviation, water quality improvement and their positive impacts on other wildlife as reasons for them to stay.
Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey urged people to attend the specially convened meeting: ‘The wild beavers on the River Otter have certainly attracted a lot of attention. We’ve had media interest from as far away as New Zealand and the USA wanting to know what their fate will be. This event is the opportunity for the local community to now make their views known.’
Steve continued: ‘We need to hear from people whether they think the beavers should remain as part of their local landscape, or whether they think they should be removed.’
The beaver consultation day will include presentations from beaver experts including Prof Bryony Coles of the University of Exeter. Evidence from beaver trials conducted in other parts of the country will also be on show.
Steve continued: ‘We want the event to be a chance for people to ask questions and to tell us their views. As an independent charity working for the county’s wildlife, Devon Wildlife Trust thinks the beavers should remain but only after it’s been established if they are disease free, and only if the local community wants them there. This event will help us get an answer to the second of these two questions.’
The event is free to attend and there is no need to book in advance. Those unable to attend can still give their opinions using the dedicated email address devonwildbeavers@devonwildlifetrust.org or by letter to Devon Wildlife Trust, Cricklepit Mill, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AB.   

Devon Wildlife Trust | view-news

With further comment from Otter-St-Mary Councillor Claire Wright:

Consultation event to take place on the beavers remaining on the Otter

Friday, 08 August 2014 0 Comments by Claire
Devon Wildlife Trust has organised a consultation event for next Tuesday (19 August) to find out what people’s views are on the family of beavers living on the Otter.

The presence of the beavers has caused a storm of controversy lately, with two national online campaigns taking off, after DEFRA confirmed that it intended to capture the beavers and put them in a zoo or wildlife park.
Channel 4 News has filmed locally and the story has been covered by almost all the national newspapers.
I wrote to Hugo Swire, East Devon’s MP, when it became apparent that the shadow of DEFRA was looming over the animals. He has since met with DEFRA minister, Lord De Morley and representatives from Devon Wildlife Trust.
Most local people seem to be baffled by DEFRA’s desire to see them rounded up and want them to continue living here peacefully.
Ministers now appear to have reined back on the threat to put the beavers in a zoo, but still seem to be worried about the possibility of a disease, which if the animals are carrying could be passed on to other animals or humans. The chance of this is remote but it is a threat pushed hard by the Angling Trust.
No one knows how the beavers came to be living on the Otter but it is thought that they could have been living there for several years. 
In other parts of the country beavers have been successfully reintroduced to the wild under a licensing programme.
Find out more about the Otter’s beavers here - http://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/devons-wild-beavers/
Beavers are a native species and were driven to extinction here hundreds of years ago, as they were hunted for their fur. I believe that we now have a responsibility to allow them to return to our rivers. If they are disease free, then there is every reason for them to remain here.
Devon Wildlife Trust’s event takes place on Tuesday 19 August at the Institute, Yonder Street. From 3pm there a drop-in event - and from 7.30pm there are talks about the beavers, and and open forum with further opportunities to give your view.
If you are unable to attend please give your views via devonwildbeavers@devonwildlifetrust.org  or ring 01392 279244.
Consultation event to take place on the beavers remaining on the Otter - Claire Wright

And the view on beavers from the Devon Wildlife Trust:

Devon's wild beavers

For the first time in more than 300 years a population of beavers is living wild in Devon.
This remarkable news broke in February 2014 when a small group of one adult and two young were filmed at a location on the River Otter, near Ottery St Mary in East Devon.

Where did the beavers come from?

The origin of these beavers is unclear. They are thought to be the result of an accidental introduction. The beavers seem well-established and local anecdotal evidence suggests that they may have been in residence for some years.
STOP PRESS: Devon's wild beavers have had kits (babies!) - watch the amazing footage here

What does the future hold for the beavers?

In July 2014 Defra announced its intention to catch and remove the wild beavers of east Devon. Their plan is to re-home the beavers in captivity elsewhere. Defra has given two reasons for this: 1) the disease-risk posed by the beavers, 2) their potential impact on the local landscape and wildlife.
There is significant local and wider opposition to this plan.

What is Devon Wildlife Trust doing?

Devon Wildlife Trust thinks the wild beavers should remain on the River Otter.
However we believe this can only happen if the following are proven:
  1. that the beavers are disease-free
  2. that they are shown to be European beavers rather than the separate species, Canadian beavers
  3. that it can be demonstrated that there is local public support for the beavers to remain
  4. that a well-planned and resourced programme can be put in place to monitor the beaver's impact on local landscape, wildlife and people
Devon Wildlife Trust is asking Natural England for permission to establish such a monitoring project. Using the experience gained from our own captive-bred beaver trial in the west of Devon (see 'Finding out more' below), we believe we have the know-how to run a successful five-year study of east Devon's wild beavers.

You can help decide the beavers' future

STOP PRESS Join DWT at The Institute, Ottery St Mary 3pm or 7.30pm, Tues 19 August for  a meeting to discuss the future of Devon's wild beavers. This is your chance to ask questions and make your views known. 
As part of our submission to Natural England we are asking the public to let us know their views about east Devon's wild beavers. What should their future be? 
Your views are important! Email devonwildbeavers@devonwildlifetrust.org and let us know your views, your approximate home location (eg 'Honiton, Devon') and whether we can contact you in the future.
Please note: your views may be shared with Natural England and others as part of our work for Devon's wild beavers.

Finding out more

We've put together these beaver-related resources to let you discover more about these fascinating animals...

Devon Wildlife Trust | Devon's Wild Beavers

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