Fears beavers in River Otter could be drowned
PUBLISHED: 10:03 06 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 November 2014
A wildlife expert has warned that plans to trap wild beavers living in the River Otter could cause the animals to drown.
Tom Buckley brought the beavers to national attention when he took footage of them in the wild earlier this year.
The river’s beavers, which have been seen as far downriver as White Bridge, are thought to be the first living wild in Britain for hundreds of years.
However, Defra has announced plans to capture and rehome them, due to fears they could carry a parasite – a move opposed by campaign group Friends of the Earth, which has launched a legal bid to stop it.
Now, Mr Buckley, a retired enrivonmental scientist, has written to Defra to raise a number of concerns, including fears that beavers could be drowned in the traps as river levels rise.
He said: “The water levels of the River Otter and its tributaries can rise very quickly and flood overnight.
“The actual route of the river at this site has changed greatly this year due to the power of floodwater overnight.
“This can even occur without localised rainfall at the time.
“No specific survey and assessment has been made of the susceptibility of each individual trap site to rising water levels and identification of what measures need to be taken to ensure trapped beavers are not drowned, especially during the night.”
Mr Buckley also raised concerns about the effect on new born cubs of trapping adult beavers, and said the plan had only focused on the Ottery St Mary area, without considering the presence of beavers further downriver in the Budleigh area.
He said: “Evidence of the presence of beaver several miles downstream of Ottery St Mary, and also upstream, was present, known about and available well before this application was made.
“This clearly demonstrates the insufficient and inadequate preparation and consideration that has been given to this whole official process by those involved.”
Defra has previously stated that all decisions will be taken with the welfare of the beavers in mind.