WTT’s response to the Defra consultation on beaver reintroduction to England

Defra are consulting on their proposed approach to beaver reintroduction and management in England. The consultation is seeking views on: 

  • Potential future releases into the wild
  • Current and future releases into enclosures
  • Mitigation and management of beaver activity or impacts in the wild, including the River Otter population and all other existing wild living beaver populations

The consultation closes on 17 November

Following a great deal of reading, discussion and visits to beaver sites in the UK and the support of WTT staff, trustees and an excellent group of external advisors we have now submitted our response.

Its headlines include: 

  • We recognise beavers as amazing animals, bringing great environmental and societal benefits in some places, at some times
  • In modern-day England, beavers may cause problems for unique trout populations, impeding vital migrations and altering habitat, in a climate changing world
  • There must be a long-term, centrally-funded national strategy for beaver reintroduction. The proposed 5 – 10 year project-based approach, locally funded, is fundamentally flawed
  • Illegal beaver releases must be treated as such
  • Further enclosed beaver releases have benefits for education and engagement, but we won’t see catchment-scale benefits or learn a great deal more and they are adept at escaping! 
  • Beavers should not currently be granted European Protected Status
  • If such Status is granted by Defra, class licensing must be rapid, responsive and effective and equitable for all species potentially impacted by management intervention, or non-intervention
  • Irrespective of decisions to protect beavers, their dams, when not associated with a natal lodge, should not be protected
  • WTT is well placed to offer expert, specialist input on fish conservation

For more information about beavers and their impacts on trout, visit our Beaver Hub.

Beaver female with kits 1 M Iike Symes comp
Photo: Mike Symes