Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Beavers Really About Now!

A large (38 kg), male beaver has reported effected his escape through a break in a 'secure' electric fence (whilst in quarantine) from a reintroduction programme in Lifton Devon (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5420944.ece). Fortunately, his two female 'companions' were quickly recaptured so he will be on his own. Claims have been made that he is chiselling down trees more than 30 kilometers away in Gunnislake (Cornwall). The desirability of reintroducing this species to the UK countryside some 500 years after its extinction has already been debated here but the event confirms (yet again) that such programmes are hardly accident-free events.
HISTORICAL NOTE
I was interested to read that Frank Buckland described how, in August 1872, he obtained 4 beavers (a male and a female from France and a similar pair from the USA) for Lord Bute (of Cardiff fame) for a release programme. Lord Bute decided that his lands in Scotland were more suited to these mammals than Wales but the animals did not, apparently, survive for very long (there was much conflict between the pairs). It looks like the obsession for releasing beavers into the UK has been going on for much longer than I thought.

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