Beavers born in Essex for 'first time since Middle Ages'

Over 400 years after they were hunted to extinction, species has been reintroduced in county to tackle flooding

One of a pair of baby beavers, or kits, born in Essex - the first born in the county for over 400 years
One of a pair of baby beavers, or kits, born in Essex - the first born in the county for over 400 years

Beavers reintroduced to tackle flooding in Essex have given birth to two kits - the first time the animals have been born in the county since the Middle Ages.

Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield was the site where a pair of Eurasian beavers were released last year as part of a river management project and became the first pair to be brought to Essex in around 400 years.

The arrival of the babies means the reintroduction is off to a rapid start.

Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK by the beginning of the 16th century due to demand for their meat, fur and scent glands.

Numerous reintroduction programmes are now underway to bring back the “keystone species” which through their re-engineering of watercourses have dramatic positive ecological impacts on the landscapes they inhabit.

A five-year study into beavers which was completed earlier this year found Britain’s wild beaver populations were reducing the impacts of floods, cleaning river water, and boosting populations of fish, amphibians and water voles.

Darren Tansley, river catchment coordinator at Essex Wildlife Trust, said: “We always hoped that having beavers present would benefit the wildlife on site, but the changes we have mapped over the past 18 months have exceeded our expectations.

“DNA samples from the main beaver pond recorded everything from deer to tiny pygmy shrews and all this to create the perfect environment for their young kits, the first beavers born in Essex since the Middle Ages.

“We are thrilled by the addition of two more ecosystem engineers in the county.”

The adult beaver pair, Woody and Willow, have been building dams since their arrival as part of a partnership project with the Environment Agency and others.

Spains Hall Estate manager Archie Ruggles-Brise described news of the beaver babies as “fantastic”.

“If they are anything like their parents, the two kits will become phenomenal dam builders, and we will be watching closely as they expand the wetland and provide even more protection against flood and drought, and provide homes for loads of other wildlife,” he said.

A public vote on Twitter is being held to help pick names for the kits.

Additional reporting by PA.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in