After years of uncertainty, England’s first wild breeding population of beavers for 400 years has been given the permanent right to remain in their East Devon river home. The decision announced today (Thursday 6th August 2020) by Defra is a landmark one, as it signals the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England. It means that the beaver population, which lives on the River Otter and is estimated to consist of up to 15 family groups, now has a secure future.
The announcement comes after the successful completion, earlier this year, of a five-year trial overseeing the animals and their impacts led by Devon Wildlife Trust. In February, the project published a ‘Science and Evidence Report’ overseen by independent researchers from the University of Exeter. This concluded that the beavers’ presence had brought benefits to people and wildlife living along East Devon’s River Otter.