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OTTERY:Meeting over the future of rare beavers

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Ottery residents are being given the chance to have their say on plans to “rehome” a family of wild beavers currently living on the banks of the River Otter.

Ottery residents are being given the chance to have their say on plans to “rehome” a family of wild beavers currently living on the banks of the River Otter.

A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Ottery next week to give residents the chance to air their views about the future of a family of wild beavers recently discovered near the town. Experts are concerned that the beavers, which have not been seen in the wild in this country for hundreds of years, may carry a parasitic disease. And DEFRA has announced its intention to capture the animals and transfer them to captivity. But protestors have called for the government department to reconsider its decision, arguing that the beavers could play a key role in flood alleviation and water quality improvement in the future. Devon Wildlife Trust is hosting the meeting, at The Institute, next week, and representatives are urging residents to attend. The Trust’s Steve Hussey said: “The wild beavers on the River Otter have certainly attracted a lot of attention. “We have had media interest from as far away as New Zealand and USA wanting to know what their fate will be. “This event is the opportunity for the local community to now make their views known – we need to hear from people whether they think the beavers should remain as part of their local landscape, or whether they think they should be removed.” The family of beavers was first spotted on the River Otter in February, but it is not known how long they have been resident there. After experts first raised concerns about the beavers’ health, two separate petitions were launched, gathering thousands of signatures from people keen to see the animals remain in the wild. Mr Hussey added: “As an independent charity working for the county’s wildlife, Devon Wildlife Trust thinks the beavers should remain – but only after it has been established if they are disease-free, and only if the local community wants them there. “This event will help us get an answer to the second of these two questions.” The beaver consultation day will include presentations from beaver experts including Prof Bryony Coles, from the University of Exeter. Evidence from beaver trials conducted in other parts of the country will also be on show. The event, being held at The Institute on Tuesday August 19th from 3pm (with a public meeting at 7.30pm) is free to attend and there is no need to book in advance. Those unable to attend can still give their opinions using the dedicated email address or by letter to Devon Wildlife Trust, Cricklepit Mill, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AB.

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