British beavers run wild

2015-02-03 19:51
A beaver swims in a pond in the forest near the village of Lovtsevichi, 50km north-west of Minsk, Belarus. (Sergei Grits, AP)

A beaver swims in a pond in the forest near the village of Lovtsevichi, 50km north-west of Minsk, Belarus. (Sergei Grits, AP)

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London - The first wild beavers to breed in England for 800 years are not going to be rounded up and put in a zoo after all.

In what was hailed as a "great day for conservation," they will continue living free in a river 16km from the south-west city of Exeter.

At least 10 beavers live along a 20km stretch of the River Otter.

They were spotted a year ago and there were immediate calls to get rid of them. Farmers warned they would damage trees, crops and rivers and spread parasites and disease.

A campaign to leave them alone garnered 12 000 signatures.

Peter Burgess of the Devon Wildlife Trust defended the beavers, saying they could mitigate flooding and boost wildlife diversity.

Beavers were believed to have been wiped out in England by hunters in the Middle Ages. There are colonies in remote parts of Scotland.

It is not known whether the River Otter beavers have always been there or whether they have been brought in from somewhere else. There are captive breeding programmes in England but no captivity escapes have been reported.

The animals might have come from a private collection, either in Britain or abroad.

Read more on:    conservation  |  animals

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