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Jake Chant, Beaver Field Officer for Devon Wildlife Trust, talks about England’s first colony of wild beavers and what that means for Devon.

In 2014 a pair of wild beavers living on the River Otter gave birth to kits (young) for the first time and there was a risk the government would step in to have them culled. Devon Wildlife Trust objected and persuaded the authorities to allow the Trust to carry out a 5-year research project into this first wild population in England. Their goal was to find out what the impact of the colony would be on property owners and farmers, flood and drought, wildlife and the economy. In 2020 (by which point there were 15 family groups of beavers living on the Otter) the government responded to the research findings by permitting the beavers to remain, making this the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England!

Jake will talk about the project, what they found and what the impacts on our rivers are likely to be as the beaver population grows.

This on-line workshop will be followed later in the Spring by an opportunity to learn how to spot the signs of beaver activity in the field. Dates will be organised once we know that training can be organised safely and within government guidelines.

Picture: sea trout jumping a beaver dam, credit Roger Auster

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