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Return of the beaver: back from extinction after 400 years Beavers are native to the UK and we’re once widespread in England, Wales and Scotland. They became extinct in the 16th century, mainly due to hunting for their fur, meat and ‘castoreum’, a secretion used in perfumes, food and medicine. However, the beaver is known as a ‘keystone species’ because of its significant positive influence on its environment, and their reappearance in the Devonshire countryside is having an amazing impact on the entire local ecosystem. Then, in 2008, a colony of unknown origin appeared on the banks of the River Otter in the county of Devon after escaping from captivity (but from exactly where, nobody knows). When video evidence emerged proving that the beavers had given birth to kits (young) in 2014, the UK Government initially planned to have them removed from the river. Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) opposed their removal. After consulting with the local community, landowners and public bodies, DWT presented an alternative plan: to turn the situation into a five-year trial to monitor the beavers’ effects on the landscape. Devon Wildlife Trust has established a “beaver hotline” to respond to any landowner concerns, and says preliminary […]

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