First wild beavers spotted in England for 800 years could be trapped and put in zoo by Government

Defra was concerned over them carrying a destructive parasite

A A A

The first wild beavers to be seen in England for up to 800 years could be captured and put in a zoo because the Government believes they could be a danger to other wildlife.

Three European beavers were confirmed to be living in the River Otter in Devon earlier this year.

In footage taken by night vision cameras they were seen gnawing at trees and playing together.

Animal groups and wildlife experts were jubilant at the discovery, which signalled the species had started breeding in the wild once more.

But there were concerns that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) may start a cull over the possibility of them carrying a destructive parasite.

Minister George Eustice ruled out killing the beavers in a written answer to a Parliamentary question.

“We intend to recapture and rehome the wild beavers in Devon and are currently working out plans for the best way to do so,” he said.

“All decisions will be made with the welfare of the beavers in mind. There are no plans to cull beavers.”

Beavers have been filmed in the River Otter – the first sighting in England for centuries Beavers have been filmed in the River Otter – the first sighting in England for centuries Defra is now trying to work out how to catch the animals and find a home for them in captivity.

In the last 15 years, attempts to re-introduce Eurasian beavers have been made in Kent, Groustershire, Lancashire and Scotland but the Devon family is believed to be the first born in the wild.

The animals were hunted to extinction in England in the 12th Century and disappeared from the rest of the UK in the 16th Century.

They were once widespread in the UK but were killed for their highly valued fur, medicinal value and meat.

The Devon Wildlife Trust welcomed the new residents in the county but acknowledged that re-introduction should be “properly planned”.

A statement after the discovery of the beavers said their return will be of “overall benefit” to river and wetland habitats in the UK.

It added: “We believe that they should be left alone and observed using a rigorous monitoring programme.

“This group of beavers provides us with a unique opportunity to learn lessons about their behaviour and their impact on the local landscape.”

The Angling Trust was not so enthusiastic, saying its members needed more beavers “like we need a hole in the head” and maintaining they had the “right” to shoot them as an invasive species.

Additional reporting by PA

Read more: Beavers caught on camera in River Otter
Concerns Defra was considering cull
Wild beaver spotted by dog-walker in Devon
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Advisor - Print

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based just north of York, this ...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant - Global Leader - FTSE 250

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run school photogra...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map