Azara Blog: Beavers being reintroduced into England

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Date published: 2005/10/27

The BBC says:

Beavers have been reintroduced to England, 500 years after they were hunted to extinction for their fur.

Six European beavers have been released at Lower Mill Estate near South Cerney, Gloucestershire, and are the first to roam wild in England for centuries.

The six adult rodents were caught in Bavaria in the spring and have spent the last few months in quarantine.

If the pioneering scheme is successful, it is hoped beavers can once again thrive in the British countryside.

Although the animals will be confined to a 500-acre site to start with, experts hope to remove the fences once the beavers have settled in so they can roam freely.

The beaver was hunted to extinction for its fur and the pain-relieving properties of its anal gland secretions.

Whereas the American beaver can be destructive, environmentalists say the European species should be a force for good in the countryside.

It is vegetarian so it should not deplete fish stocks in rivers and the beavers could also help keep waterways clear of debris.

Beavers are great. But it's amazing the UK blithely allows the introduction of what amounts to a new species in the UK with what seems little attention. Hasn't anybody learned anything from all the previous disasters of introducing new species? American beavers are not destructive except in the opinion of people who don't like what they do (e.g. cut down trees and make dams). If in a similar way UK beavers turn out to cause some commercial damage (in no doubt an unforseen way) are the people who are responsible for their introduction going to pay compensation?

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