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OTTERY:Plans to ‘rehome’ wild beavers sparks outrage

Tuesday, 08 July 2014

East Devon MP Hugo Swire will meet with a government representative this week to discuss whether a colony of rare beavers discovered near Ottery St Mary should be allowed to remain in the wild. Angry residents voiced their concerns last week when DEFRA plans to “rehome” the beavers were revealed. Experts are concerned that the beavers, which have not been seen in this country for around 500 years, may carry a parasitic disease - and DEFRA is proposing to transfer them to captivity. But, Mr Swire has written to the government department on the issue and is due to meet with Lord De Mauley, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Science, this week. Two petitions have already gathered more than 6,000 signatures – at the time Pulman’s View went to press - and local people have expressed their strong desire to keep the animals in the wild. One of the petitions, set up by local wildlife consultant Derek Gow, urges DEFRA not to “cull, remove or disturb” the beavers, and warns that trapping them for testing could be “traumatic” and risks killing their young. Ottery councillor and parliamentary candidate Claire Wright, who has led calls for the animals to be left alone, said: “The beavers have been extinct in this country for about 500 years, thanks to man’s obsession with their luxurious fur. “They can help with purifying water and can offset flood risks – and evidence suggests that previously wild beavers tend to die in zoos. “I cannot see any logic whatsoever for removing them like this. The most obvious way forward is to monitor them carefully and see what impact, if any, they have over a number of years.” The family of beavers was first spotted on the River Otter in February and the Devon Wildlife Trust has also called for them to be left alone.


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