Wild beavers recorded in Avon for the first time in 400 years

Wild beavers recorded in Avon for the first time in 400 years

(c) Bevis Watts

New evidence from Avon Wildlife Trust has shown wild beavers are thriving in the Avon catchment area – making this one of the UK’s first regions in which the endangered species has established themselves without human assistance or interference for over 400 years.

Since the early 2000’s, beavers have been reintroduced across the UK, through conservation trials like the River Otter Beaver Trial in Devon. At a time when the UK government has launched a landmark consultation on the reintroduction of beavers in England, this new sighting of three generations confirms that beavers are successfully expanding their range naturally.

The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of beaver conservation in Britain, and Avon Wildlife Trust are now delighted to have beavers on their own patch. A family of beavers has been recorded in the area, including three baby beavers (kits) born this year.

Amy Coulthard, Director of Nature’s Recovery, Avon Wildlife Trust, commented: A new sighting of wild beavers is extremely significant. Beavers are a keystone species and they have an extraordinary ability to change habitats to suit their needs while creating ecosystems for other species to thrive. The presence of this beaver population will support other wildlife and help us to tackle the ecological emergency.”

Avon Wildlife Trust recently launched the 30 by 30 appeal, to raise £30,000 to help ensure at least 30% of our land and sea is connected and protected for nature’s recovery by 2030.

Funds raised through the appeal will go towards nature recovery projects like the Avon beavers and the newly appointed Beaver Management Group, which involves statutory partners, NGOs, and other local interest groups. The group will monitor the new population and work with landowners in the catchment area to maximise the benefits beavers provide as well as manage their impact.       

 A five-year scientific study conducted by the Wildlife Trusts shows that the presence of beavers has a wide range of positive effects on biodiversity, nature and people. The research found that active beavers improve water quality, reduce flood risk and increase biodiversity. Ponds created by beavers may host 50% more unique species than other wetlands

Notes to Editors:

Avon Wildlife Trust is an independent charity committed to enabling wildlife to survive and thrive across the region. More than 17,000 members, 650 volunteers and a dedicated staff team work together to make our local area wilder and make nature part of life, for everyone.

Bristol Avon and Somerset Frome Beaver Management Group

This group was established in February 2021 to oversee the development, delivery and ongoing review of the Bristol Avon and Somerset Frome Beaver Management Strategy.

During the course of the River Otter Beaver Trial, the Steering Group developed and published a Beaver Management Strategy Framework (BMSF) which outlined how the beavers should be managed between 2020 and 2030 if they were permitted to remain. We intend to follow this established framework and adapt for the catchment.

The Group take an inclusive, consensus building approach to ensure:

  • the considerable benefits arising from beaver reintroduction were maximised.
  • the interests of key stakeholders and those likely to be negatively impacted are fully recognised; and
  • that beaver welfare and conservation status are optimised at all times.

Membership of the group is wide ranging, including statutory bodies, NGOs, Catchment Partnerships, representatives from the landowning and angling communities as well as local groups.