The news from Devon is getting more and more interesting, and what once looked like a quick DEFRA victory, is turning into a marathon battle over public interest. I’m just excited its still being discussed.
For creatures no one ever sees or hears, they are creating a clamorous stampede. The fact that there are beavers on River Otter is in no doubt – you can see evidence of their engineering works in several areas – but it is the human debate which is mounting over their future that is beginning to echo so loudly down this peaceful Devon valley.
Should the wild beavers in the area be allowed to remain for a test period of five years, or should they be rounded up and carted off to some wildlife park? That is the question which Natural England and DEFRA will be deciding on next week and, as the clock ticks towards beaver heaven or hell, so the increasing voices of opinion can be heard resounding across the media and the internet.
Ahh the citizens of Devon made such a clamor! I remember those days in Martinez. And hopefully our noisy dilemma made some observable difference to what is happening. Certainly it showed that public opinion can push the debate. When the people lead the leaders will follow. But not right away. First they have to exhaust all the possible options for refuting/marginalizing/ignoring them.
We saw that in Martinez too.
The UK’s leading beaver expert, Devon-based Derek Gow, told the WMN that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss, had directed Natural England to made a decision on the “basis of science and evidence alone”.
“If they do so on this basis then the mists of myth and misunderstanding which have swirled around this issue for so long will simply vanish leaving only one clear answer,” said Mr Gow. “Although their decision may seem insignificant involving, as it does a tiny, very fragile, population of beavers, it is in reality momentous.
“It will give us the opportunity to set an example of tangible tolerance we have never attempted before, by re-establishing in its rightful environment this creature we once slaughtered recklessly.”
Mr Gow said he had “no doubt” that beavers could exist in British landscapes but only if their presence was “competently handled”.
“Beavers can be trying. Their engineering abilities can conflict with our interests but the truth is that they create environments which abound in wildlife, retain water, prevent flooding and assist in the restoration of cleaner river systems.
Derek has been a beacon of beaver strength in the area since before this began. We have followed his advocacy for beaver benefits for years now, and I’ve very excited he’s presenting on the matter at the State of the Beaver Conference next month. Since I’ll have a front row seat for that particular discussion, you will too.
4:15 pm −5:00 pm Return of the Beaver to Britain
Derek Gow, Consultancy Ltd. Devon, Britain
The article ends with an emphasis on needing to have tools for ‘management’ of beaver presence in England. Of course management is a euphemism for ‘lethal trapping’.
Dr. Bridgewater went on: “What we should be focussing on – where the debate is – is that 20 or 30 years down the line their numbers may well have expanded. They will move up the catchment, and between catchments. Everyone needs to be aware that is the case. It is not a car-crash – you can manage them, there are good management techniques – but it is a matter of everyone knowing what they are getting into.
“If I have a concern it is about communication – people might think having the beavers is fantastic and support it – but they might not necessarily support the management.
Very ominous Dr. Bridgewater. And kind of silly. Do you honestly think that a country that tolerates the regular culling the most beloved animal in the entire United Kingdom isn’t going to be ready to take out a few lumpy beavers? How much work does the advance team really need to do on the issue?