The reintroduction will be the first made by the conservation charity, with the aim of helping with flood management and improving biodiversity. Description and ecological characteristics. In the UK IOSF is the only charity solely dedicated to the conservation, protection and care of otters based on years of scientific research in the UK and around the world. Otters have recently returned to the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire. ... 2015, the new-born beavers, which were part of England’s first wild beaver trial, were recorded on film on the River Otter. Aricle's organizations: wildlife service. An increasing number of farmers and conservationists are considering rewilding schemes for their land, and there are calls for reintroductions of animals from boar to lynx and wolves. Some conservationists warn that sightings of otters in new habitats may reflect otters roaming more widely in search of food rather than a big increase in numbers. In recent years, the two biggest known barbel in Britain are believed to have been predated by otters – both from rivers, The Great Ouse and Ivel, where the mammals have only recently returned. How is the UK Wild Otter Trust (UKWOT) helping? Philip Wayre was a British animal addict who intended to breed the European otter in captivity, until conditions were right and it could be reintroduced to the wild. In England the otter disappeared dramatically between the 1950s and 1970s because of persecution and pesticides washing into waterways. UKWOT has five trained operatives and, since October 2016, 10 fenced fisheries have approached us to help them. The government gave permission on Thursday for the reestablished colony to remain in the area, the first wild breeding of beavers in 400 years and the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England. Up to 15 family groups of beavers are now estimated to live on the Otter, after seven years in which their future success did not always look assured. Otters have reappeared in places where they have not been seen since the industrial revolution, including Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester, and even on the Thames and the Lea in north London. However, otter populations in England are very fragmented and the animals breed slowly. "The fact that otters are now returning to Kent is the final piece in the jigsaw for otter recovery in England and is a symbol of great success for everybody involved in otter conservation," said Alastair Driver, the national conservation manager for the Environment Agency. © 2021 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Otters have also benefited from reductions in the volume of water extracted from rivers by water companies, farmers and industry. There is still a great deal of work to do before otters are widespread once more.". The River Otter is already home to England’s first new wild population of beavers, which were given the right to remain on the waterway after a five-year trial showed their reintroduction reduced flooding and boosted other wildlife. ... Bavarian beavers discovered in the river Otter are now part of the trial. It began with two family groups of beavers in 2015 which have now bred and dispersed throughout the catchment. The project is set to end in 2020 and the results of the trial will decide the fate of these bucked-toothed creatures in England. "It's not physically possible for them to spread very quickly," said Yoxon. sara hottman. All rights reserved. The trial clearly proves the benefits of nature-based solutions to dealing with flooding, water quality and resilience to climate change. In England the River Otter Beaver Trial (ROBT) is the only licenced population of free-living beavers, although other groups of beavers exist in the wild, as a result of escapes. The trial is the first formal reintroduction of a mammal to take place in the UK. university of oregon. A recent survey on the river Ribble, in Lancashire, showed a 44% increase in otter numbers since 2008. In Shetland and North-west Scotland most births occur in summer. Otters have reappeared in places where they have not been seen since the industrial revolution, including Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester, … No more releases in the wild will be allowed until the consultation is complete. Mating occurs at any time of the year and females give birth to 2 – 3 cubs, usually between May and August. They were threatened with removal, but the Devon Wildlife Trust and community groups stepped in and tried to show the beavers were European, rather than north American, and eventually gained a licence for a five-year trial, which was extended in February to conclude this month. “Beavers can have a significant local impact on the countryside and farming; from creating dams that can undermine riverbanks, to impeding farmland drainage with waterlogged fields becoming unsuitable for grazing and cropping; all lead to serious implications on our ability to produce food,” he said. The otter Lutra lutra is a semi-aquatic mammal, which occurs in a wide range of ecological conditions, including inland freshwater and coastal areas (particularly in Scotland). We knew the benefits, but things were hanging on a knife edge over securing the licence at the beginning.”. Meanwhile, in Wales, there is also a plan to conduct a beaver reintroduction … Otters are slow to reproduce and most mothers only bear two sets of cubs in their lifetime. The Environment Agency, working with partners including wildlife and angling organisations, has this year been granted an additional £18m of funding by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to help more English rivers meet new EU targets on the health of rivers. elakha alliance. The angler John Wilson recently called the otter "a wanton killer" and some fishing groups have called for a cull. Beavers returned to Forest of Dean 400 years after being driven to extinction. Welcome to the UK Wild Otter Trust! Devon Wildlife Trust's report looks at the River Otter Beaver Trial - a 5-year trial reintroduction of Eurasian beavers into the wild in south east Devon. This is a landmark decision and one of the most important moments in England's conservation history. And the argument against the reintroduction of beavers Beaver Reintroduction In The United Kingdom: A Success Or Failure? The resurgence of the otter has not delighted everyone, however, and anglers have reported otters decimating stocks in fishing lakes. Return of otter shows English rivers are healthiest for 20 years, says Environment Agency, Otters have returned to every county in England in a turnaround of their fortunes which once saw them on the brink of extinction. "The biggest problem is human encroachment and the destruction of habitat, and increasingly many otters are hit on the roads.". Our aim is to restore healthy populations of wild cranes throughout the UK, so that people can once again experience these beautiful birds. They leave the protection of their mothers at 10 – 12 months and can breed at 2 years old. “But we also understand that there are implications for landowners, and take care to ensure that all potential impacts are carefully considered.”. The reintroduction of beavers into Britain’ streams and rivers could help protect land and communities from flooding and the impact of climate change, trials have shown. A survey of members and supporters of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust on lynx reintroduction received 4,500 replies, of which 68% were in favour. wikimedia commons. Cubs are normally born in dens, called holts, which can be in a tree root system, a hole in a bank or under a pile of rocks. Beaver Reintroduction Project in the UK. bob bailey. • This article was amended on 6 August 2020 to clarify in the first paragraph that the beaver colony discussed is the first to live wild in England for hundreds of years, not the UK. Reintroduction expected to increase biodiversity and reduce local flooding Grace Yoxon of the International Otter Survival Fund said evidence of a surge in otter numbers should be treated with caution. The first beavers to live wild in England for centuries are to be allowed to remain in their new home on the River Otter in east Devon after a five-year reintroduction trial. As the UK’s climate changes under global heating, droughts and devastating floods are likely to become more common, and beavers can help with both: their damming slows the speed of floods downhill when there is too much rainfall, and helps provide water storage that stops rivers running dry during droughts. The Trust recently secured the first ongoing ‘class licence’ to capture and transport live Eurasian otters trapped in well-fenced fisheries in England. The dams also filter out pollutants and stop topsoil being washed away. According to the Environment Agency, around 35m fewer litres a day are now being taken from the River Darent in Kent than 20 years ago, support larger populations of wildlife including brown trout and pike. There were several incidents of localised flooding of farmland, when the landowners were concerned, but by providing expert support the reintroduction team were able to resolve the problems. "They are such a beautiful species of the weasel family and part of our heritage," he said. oregon state university. Sea Otter Reintroduction To More Of The Pacific Coast Gets A Nudge From Congress Aricle's persons: pacific ocean. beaver (Castor fiber) reintroduction in the River Otter Beaver Trial Roger Edward Auster , Stewart Barr and Richard Brazier Geography Department, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK (Received 24 February 2020; final version received 26 August 2020) Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) reintroduction … senate appropriations committee. In 1982, this aim came to fruition with the release of three captive-bred otters into a river in East Anglia. In 2018 beavers were observed moving into new areas and creating dams to form wetland habitat. We will continue our work to improve habitats for these magnificent animals and to promote the otter as a flagship species of healthy wetland ecosystems. jeff merkley. The ROBT is led by Devon Wildlife Trust, working with Exeter University, and the beavers … In England and Wales otter cubs, usually in litters of two or three, can be born at any time of the year. The otter’s droppings are known as spraint and otters use them to mark their territories How to recognise In the UK otters can only really be confused with the introduced American mink, but otters are much larger (95-130cm in length, including tail), with a distinctive white throat. Key to the success of the River Otter project was getting local people and farmers involved and explaining the benefits beavers can bring, as well as providing support when needed, said Burgess. ", A spokesperson for The Wildlife Trusts said: "This is fantastic news. Terry Nutkins, the naturalist and friend of Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water, said he was "absolutely overjoyed" by the return of the otter across England. Beavers can grow to 20kg, but contrary to popular misconceptions, live on an exclusively vegetarian diet and do not eat fish. The International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) is one of the world's leading otter charities. Available for everyone, funded by readers. future success did not always look assured, when a family group were found to be living on the River Otter, according to a study from Exeter University, devastating floods are likely to become more common. Photograph: Environment Agency/PA, UK animals back from the brink of extinction. "It's good news and shows that the rivers are clean and there are more people becoming involved with environmental issues. Beavers alter the landscape and ecosystems in and around waterways, with their dam-building helping to reduce pollution and boosting local wildlife populations, including fish and amphibians, according to a study from Exeter University. Attempts have been made to reintroduce otters to their former haunts by reintroducing captive bred and rehabilitated animals, with some attempts proving very successful. Reports now state that otters inhabit every county in the UK – great news for the otter! Two otters have been spotted building their holts on the banks of the rivers Medway and Eden in Kent, delighting conservationists who had previously predicted they would not return to the county for another 10 years. Devon Wildlife Trust is seeking to use the small wild and breeding population now living on the River Otter as an opportunity to study these impacts in a real life lowland British landscape. ulation of unknown origin has been licensed for a reintroduction trial in Devon (Natural England, 2015) alongside a number of fenced projects, and the UK government has included reference to “providing opportunities for reintroduction of species such as beavers” in its 25‐year environmental plan (for England) (HM Government, 2018, p. 57). Reproduction. “If landowners know there’s someone they can pick up the phone to, it really helps,” Burgess said. Newborns are only about 12cm long but grow quickly and can swim at three months. The resurgence of the otter, which is top of the food chain in river environments, is an indicator that English rivers are at their healthiest for more than 20 years, according to the Environment Agency. Richard Benwell, chief executive of the Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “It’s great to see that the reintroduction of beavers in this trial has resulted in a win-win for the local area, boosting wildlife and tackling man-made problems. This fantastic report outlines the findings of the research programme. – but our river systems still require extensive habitat management to restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife. Populations in coastal areas utilise shallow, inshore marine areas for feeding but also require fresh water for bathing and terrestrial areas for resting and breeding holts. Beaver reintroduction 'could cut flash-flooding' The River Otter beaver trial showed that the animals' skill replenished and enhanced the ecology of the river catchment in East Devon. Otters are also sometimes caught in crayfish traps. It has been a long and perilous journey, but otters have finally managed to swim back from the brink of extinction and into every county in England. Many angling clubs have been forced to erect expensive fences around lakes to keep otters out. It's the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England. After otter hunting was belatedly banned in Britain in 1978, numbers began to increase – particularly following the withdrawal of organochlorine chemicals and a more general improvement in water quality, leading to more fish in rivers and lakes. “Animals are much more likely to be welcomed if that is the approach.”. The Kentish otters herald a remarkable – if slow – renaissance for the sleek, fish-devouring member of the mustelid family, which declined by 95% of its range in western Europe during the 20th century. jodie delavan. Cubs are usually born in a holt in a bank, or between rocks or tree roots. The first beavers to live wild in England for centuries are to be allowed to remain in their new home on the River Otter in east Devon after a five-year reintroduction trial.. With the agreement of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Natural England, the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) www.devonwildlifetrust.org and the major landowner Clinton Devon Estates (CDE), a five year River Otter Beaver Trial (ROBT) began in 2015. PORTLAND, Ore. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed this year’s federal budget, which includes a directive to study sea otter reintroduction in the Pacific Northwest. It means that the beaver population, which lives on the River Otter and is estimated to consist of up to 15 family groups, now has a secure future. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. Peter Burgess, director of conservation at Devon Wildlife Trust, which has overseen the reintroduction trial, told the Guardian: “There have been some sleepless nights, and it was very stressful in the early stages. "We just don't have the data [on population increases]," she said. When the Otter Trust was set up in the UK in 1972, one of its long-term intentions was to restore European otters to suitable wild habitat. The government said on Thursday it would consult later this year on the possibility of further reintroductions, and a national approach to the issue. We are a Devon-based charity dedicated to protecting and promoting a positive understanding of the European otter and its conservation.We want everyone to be able to engage with and appreciate these beautiful animals, and we work hard to raise awareness, educate, and share information in as many ways as possible! “We must see a well-thought through exit strategy if any major issues occur.”. However, we must not be complacent. “We hope to see more such welcome projects introduced by government as part of flooding, water and climate planning.”. The beavers started out as interlopers, when a family group were found to be living on the River Otter in 2013, their origins unknown. The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, RSPB and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, with major funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company. Family of reestablished colony legally sanctioned to remain in east Devon habitat, Thu 6 Aug 2020 01.00 EDT Last modified on Thu 6 Aug 2020 05.48 EDT. Getty. Rebecca Pow, environment minister, said: “We are firmly committed to providing opportunities to reintroduce formerly native species, such as beavers, where the benefits for the environment, people and the economy are clear. 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