England’s only wild beavers need our help

The Devon Wildlife Trust has launched a crowdfunding campaign to keep the River Otter beavers in the English countryside where they belong

The Devon Wildlife Trust has launched a crowdfunding campaign to keep the River Otter beavers in the English countryside where they belong
Beaver and kits on the River Otter. Pic: Mike Symes

Supporters have a chance to “make history”, says Chris Packham Supporters have a chance to “make history”, says Chris Packham

The Devon Wildlife Trust has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise at least £100,000 it needs to secure the future of England’s only wild population of beavers. 

According to TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham, supporters of the campaign have a “chance to make history”. 

Their natural home

The beavers have made their home on the River Otter in East Devon. After being discovered in 2013, they were going to be removed by government officials. However, a partnership led by Devon Wildlife Trust and involving local people and landowner Clinton Devon Estates reversed the decision – but only for a five-year trial period on a licence granted by Natural England.

The trial is scheduled to finish in 2020. At that point, the government will make its judgement on the beavers’ future.

A long way to go

Devon Wildlife Trust has to finance all of the project’s costs, estimated to be nearly £700,000. The charity receives no state funding for the project and now urgently needs to finance its beaver work.

Thanks to the Trust’s supporters, nearly half of this sum has been raised, but there is still a long way to go, hence the crowdfunding appeal, now running alongside the general donation option. Crowdfunding allows the public to back an idea with pledges of money. Backers are then thanked with rewards that reflect their contribution.

Rewards for supporters of this campaign include:

  • A beaver chip – a nibbled chip of wood actually gnawed by a Devon beaver.
  • A limited edition signed beaver cushion, designed by artist Hugh Dunford Wood.
  • A bespoke tour of the beavers’ river home in the company of an expert guide
  • A River Otter beaver soft toy.
  • A personal appearance by ‘Nora’ the Devon Wildlife Trust’s beaver mascot.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Mike Elsey, who set up the appeal, says:

“Devon’s wild beavers have attracted so much interest, not just in Devon but across the UK and beyond. This is people’s chance to turn this interest into support. This is their opportunity to become part of this unique wildlife story and ensure that these very special animals remain in the wild at least until 2020.”

If you would like to support Devon’s wild beavers, please visit www.supportdevonbeavers.org.

Here’s more about the campaign and the Devon Wildlife Trust’s amazing work from Chris Packham: 

More about the trial

The River Otter Beaver Trial started in 2015 and is a five-year project monitoring the impact of the animals on the local landscapes, communities and wildlife. Activities include:

  • Monitoring the beavers’ welfare and introducing new animals to the river to keep their small community genetically diverse.
  • Working with landowners and others to monitor and manage any impacts the beavers have on the local landscape.
  • Helping schools and other local communities take part in the exciting story unfolding on their doorstep.

All project outcomes have to be fully supported by independent evidence.

There are now thought to be around 20 beavers living on the River Otter. They are the first wild beavers in England for 400 years after the last populations were hunted to extinction. Last summer, beavers living near the East Devon village of Otterton drew hundreds of visitors all hoping to see a family, including five kits (baby beavers).  

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