Friday, 14 November 2014

Government softens stance on Devon's wild beavers

Correspondence from environment department suggests River Otter beavers will be tested for disease locally rather than moved 300 miles away, Friday 14 November 2014 05.30 GMT

A family of beavers that has been living wild on an English river could yet be saved from a lifetime under lock and key in a zoo or wildlife park.

The environmental charity Friends of the Earth claimed the government, which is planning to trap the animals, has softened its stance towards the beavers, believed to be the first to live in the wild in England for centuries.

Until now the government has argued that the beavers are a non-native, invasive species that could be carrying a disease and should be removed from their Devonshire home and tested. It has been at pains to insist it will not cull the beavers but will find a home in captivity for them.

FoE has launched legal proceedings challenging the government’s plans, claiming that because Britain was part of the beavers’ natural range before they were hunted to extinction, they are protected under European law. Most local people who share the banks of the River Otter with the beavers appear to want them to be left alone.

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