OVERWHELMING opposition against the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) proposals to remove a family of beavers from the River Otter this autumn was expressed at a public consultation event.
The wave of public support for the animals was demonstrated at the Devon Wildlife Trust staged event in Ottery St Mary, which is just upstream from where the beavers are thought to be residing.
But critics of the proposals believe that the suggestion of rounding up the beavers is an “over reaction”, and the benefits they bring to the environment, far outweigh any negatives they may be culpable for.
During the meeting, which followed an afternoon drop-in event, local residents were informed of Defra’s plans to plot traps along the river, potentially from as far downstream as Budleigh Salterton and upstream as far as Honiton, this autumn.
The trust also informed the some 100 attendees that the process of trapping and testing is likely to be anything but swift, due to the complicated and invasive testing procedure and the risk that Defra could face a legal challenge to releasing the unlicensed animals back into the wild, meaning they could be in captivity far longer than planned.
Independent ward member for Ottery St Mary, Councillor Claire Wright, added: “The most important thing to remember is that beavers are a native species and they will live in harmony, and enhance, the natural environment and biodiversity.
“The chances of them having this disease is so remote, this is a completely over the top, irrational reaction.”
Hurray for the hardworking families of Devon who took time out of their Tuesday to support the first wild beavers in 500 years. And hurray to the media that was there to run the story. I hope it gets picked up by the bigger news feed soon, because there is no guarantee DEFRA will do the right thing.
But as of 10:30 last evening there is officially a slightly better chance. Good work!