Jan 08, 2020 12:30 AM EST
England’s first beavers to live in the wild in 400 years are having a positive effect on the local community and environment.
Appearing along the River Otter in Devon more than a decade ago, they are being monitored to determine whether they benefit the local area and should continue living there. The beavers have significantly reduced water flow, helped plant and animal life flourish, and drawn in a crowd of regular visitors to the area, researchers said.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) tested the animals for deadly diseases and allowed them to live freely along the Devonshire riverside as part of a five-year trial.
The beavers have also wowed scientists with their intricate 100-foot-long (30-meter) dams weaving across Devon. The animals have engineered a huge network of 14 pools and dams across almost 100 acres of the Coombeshead Valley. According to a researcher, their dams can potentially reduce the risk of flooding.
In 2008, the colony appeared on the banks of the River Otter in the county of Devon after escaping from captivity. In 2015, a few of the animals were captured, tested for disease and released back into the river.
According to Professor Richard Brazier from the University of Exeter, research shows plant and animal life is also flourishing in their ponds, which catch sediment and inorganic fertilizers washed from farmland.
There are now approximately at least seven breeding pairs, with possibly as many as 13 beaver families living on the river.
According to a spokesperson for DEFRA, “We are committed to reintroducing formerly native species, including beavers, where there are clear environmental and socio-economic benefits.” A decision on any future work will be taken after the conclusion.
Their corner of the West Country has remained more fertile thanks to the beavers, experts said. There has been no reported change in water level before the major drought struck nationwide at the end of May and the beginning of August.
Since 2015, a trial run by the Devon Wildlife Trust was designed to demonstrate that beavers can have a positive impact on their natural environment and create benefits for the local community.
The beavers’ activities over the past five years have helped manage water flow and raised the possibility that their dams could help reduce the risk of flooding along river systems. The wild beavers have also drawn tourists to the area.
The beavers became extinct from hunting in Britain about four centuries ago until a colony was spotted along Devon river.
According to Mark Elliott from Devon Wildlife Trust, the mammals have created beautiful areas of new habitat while also benefiting water voles, otters and wading birds.
Also, the beavers are helping to reduce soil erosion and slow down the flow of rivers, which is, in turn reducing flooding.
During these summers in England, the beaver-ridden region has remained lush and full of life thanks to the beavers’ large dams. The mammals created new habitats for wildlife living around the river, including water voles, otters, and wading birds.
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