First baby beaver born on Exmoor in 400 years

August 7, 2021
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The first baby beaver born on Exmoor for 400 years has been captured on camera, the National Trust has said.

The baby, known as a kit, was spotted at the charity’s Holnicote Estate in Somerset, where the animals were reintroduced in 2020.

The once-native mammals are able to restore wetland habitats but were hunted to extinction for their fur, glands and meat in the 16th century.

A ranger from the estate said the new family of beavers were “thriving”.

The footage shows the beavers have successfully bred, with images from a static camera revealing the six-week-old kit swimming with its mother back to the family lodge, while she stops to nibble a branch.

Holnicote Estate ranger Jack Siviter said he was “pleased” to see the first-time beaver mum with the new baby.

“We first had an inkling that our pair of beavers had mated successfully when the male started being a lot more active building and dragging wood and vegetation around the site in late spring,” he said.

The mum was spotted again after a few weeks showing signs that she had given birth.

“We are particularly pleased for our female, nicknamed Grylls due to her survival instincts, as she didn’t have the easiest start to life, being orphaned at an early age,” he added.

Beavers are seen as nature engineers who restore wetland habitats through dam-building and felling trees, slowing, storing and filtering water in the landscape, which attracts other wildlife and reduces flooding downstream.

‘Helping natural processes’
The trust said the 2.7 hectare (6.7 acre) enclosure the beavers were released into has since been transformed from unmanaged woodland to a more open wetland, attracting more wildlife, in just 18 months.

National Trust project manager at Holnicote Ben Eardley said: “The beavers are doing a lot of what we want to see in terms of conservation and land management.

“They are letting the light and the water into the site, helping natural processes and providing opportunities for a host of other wildlife.”

A consultation on the approach to beavers in England and managing them in the wild is expected to take place this summer.

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