Beavers are back in Cumbria after a 400 year absence – and there’s more coming

Beavers are making a comeback after a 400 year absence from the county, after two were released onto an Eden estate and another licence for south Cumbria was agreed.

Cumbria Beaver Group said two adult beavers have been released into a 27-acre enclosure at Lowther Estate for a five-year scientific trial, which aims to obtain data on the impact of beavers in an upland environment.

It has also been confirmed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust that another licence, submitted by a private individual at an undisclosed location in south Cumbria, has now been agreed.

Jim Bliss, conservation manager at Lowther Estate said: “We’re thrilled to finally have beavers at Lowther.

“We are leaving the beavers undisturbed so that they can adapt to each other and their new surroundings and we hope that there may be beaver kits in the spring.

“We have already seen signs of dam-building and canal systems. The dams they’ve constructed will hold back a lot of water, as well as storing silt.

“This all helps to improve the water quality and biodiversity of the area.”

The female beaver, Dragonfly, was trapped and relocated from the River Tay catchment in Scotland, under licence from NatureScot, the public body responsible for Scotland’s natural heritage.

The male,Glen, was rescued from the outflow of a hydroelectric plant in Perthshire by the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A 1.2m-high secure fence surrounds the release site, which is a mixture of woodland and wet grassland, and includes an anti-climb and a green weld mesh that goes into the stream bed, to stop the beavers burrowing under the fence at the water course.

David Harpley, chair of Cumbria Beaver Group and conservation manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “This is fantastic news and very exciting for all those who want to see beavers return to Cumbria.

“Results from trials elsewhere such as Devon show that beavers can provide a range of environmental benefits, including reducing flood risk, by constructing dams which can slow the flow of flood water.

“Beavers are often referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’.

“They make changes to their habitats, such as digging canal systems, damming smaller water courses, and coppicing tree and shrub species, creating open water habitats which provide a home for many other creatures.”

There will be no public access to the beavers at Lowther Estate, but Cumbria Beaver Group will be posting regular news and updates about the beavers online and on social media.

The Westmorland Gazette | News