Hunted to extinction, England’s first wild beavers in 400 years allowed to stay

Good News Notes:

“After a 400-year wait, sharp teeth are once again gnawing through trees and building dams on English waterways.

Hunted to extinction in the 16th century, wild beavers are making a comeback after a five-year study demonstrated their positive impact on the environment.

Local landowners had expressed concern that they could spread disease — but the U.K. government announced Thursday that the trial had been deemed a success and the beavers can stay.

The rodents are believed to have been living on the River Otter in Devon, southwest England, since 2008 although who released them and why remains a mystery. The name of the river is a coincidence — no otters are known to live there.

‘The River Otter beavers reintroduction trial has proved highly successful — improving biodiversity and water quality, mitigating flooding and making the local landscape more resilient to change,’ said Rebecca Pow, U.K. environment minister.

After a video emerged in 2014 showing that the beavers had successfully bred, the U.K. government planned to remove them, but an alternative plan to study their impact was devised instead.

The research from the University of Exeter — published in February this year — showed that beavers act as natural ‘engineers,’ improving the environment in ways that far outweigh the cost to a small number of landowners who opposed them.

By building dams and lodges, the beavers reduced the flooding risk to a village downstream — a heightened concern in western England after a spate of severe floods in recent years, which have been linked to climate change.”

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