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Welsh public back the return of beavers into the wild

19 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Beaver. Photo by Colin Preece

Beavers have recently been reintroduced to Scotland and England – and the Welsh Beaver Project, led by North Wales Wildlife Trust, is seeking to re-establish beavers in Wales.

Beavers lived in Britain until they were hunted to extinction approximately 500 years ago.

The Welsh Beaver Project has been investigating the feasibility of reintroducing beavers to Wales since 2005, and this also involves finding out what people think about beavers in Wales.

Welsh survey

A wealth of public engagement work has already been undertaken, but this is the first time that an all-Wales online survey has been conducted.

The opinion survey was commissioned by North Wales Wildlife Trust but independently led by a team of experts from the University of Exeter. The team from Exeter were also involved with a peer-reviewed survey in 2017 that investigated the attitudes and perception towards beaver reintroductions across Great Britain.

Image credit: Emyr Evans

Over 4,000 responses were received in this latest survey, of which over 3,000 responses were from residents in Wales. The Wildlife Trusts in Wales believe that these results were positive with 88.7% of participants in Wales supporting beavers living in Wales.

Benefits to biodiversity and wetland habitats, waterway management and recognising beavers as a native species were the main reasons given for supporting beavers in Wales.

Majority in favour

A majority of participants (over 83%) were also in favour of legal protection for beavers in Wales with enabling time for beavers to establish and helping to ensure populations survive as the main reasons for legal protection.

Participants in favour of either limited legal protection (11.16% of participants) or no legal protection (5.13% of participants) was mainly due to being able to manage conflicts. Just under 7% of participants in Wales were opposed to beavers living in Wales with the most common reason being concerns of negative impacts on river systems.

Whilst beavers can bring many benefits there are times when local issues may arise, but management techniques have been developed and are used in many European countries, including closer to home in England and Scotland.

The Welsh Beaver Project is also establishing a Beaver Management Network to ensure there is management support in Wales as well and the project has entered a new phase, through their new Living With Beavers In The Dyfi Catchment Project.

The project will continue with their discussions about beavers and will be meeting with landholders and communities to re-assure and advise them about the activities of beavers, as well as raise awareness about the importance of beavers and how we can live side-by-side with them.

Beaver. Photo by Paul Stevenson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This work is funded by the Nature Networks Fund (round two), which is delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, on behalf of the Welsh Government and in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.

Alicia Leow-Dyke, Welsh Beaver Project Officer said, “We are pleased with the number of responses to this survey and the positive reaction towards beavers. We will also review any concerns raised within survey.

“This survey gives us an insight into the feelings towards beavers from the participants and how this compares with similar surveys that have been conducted across Britain.”

The survey report can be found here

For more information about the Welsh Beaver Project, please click here.

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Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
4 months ago

Shush! Don’t tell the farmers! They’ll want to shoot them all.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

Sadly any reintroduction of beavers suggested that were once native disappeared due to exploitation by hunters and farming practices. Not sure if any return would be have a positive outcome unless it was in an isolated area where they wouldn’t be a deemed a threat, or more importantly, be threatened by human interaction. Only recently we had Ospreys nest attacked with a chainsaw in Gwynedd. And in the past have seen other birds of prey deliberately poisoned or shot with pellets &;crossbow bolts. Similar occured with otters deemed a threat to fishing. Sometimes we as humans forget that we share… Read more »

4 months ago

Poland re-introduced the beaver in the 1970’s, they are now being culled because of the damage they cause and the flooding that is a consequence of their dams.
Beavers are estimated to cause around £5m worth of damage annually in the Danube valley alone.

What is the point of forcing farmers to plant trees and then introducing a tree destroying animal.

4 months ago
Reply to  Glen

They don’t put any thought into these ventures. The assembly copies everything London & Edinburgh do. The only time we do anything original is lowering the speed limit to 20mph or insisting all new homes have to be equipped with sprinkler systems.

4 months ago

Is there any positive to this? Does anyone here remember beavers in the wild? No. Wales(at least the AMs) claim to want sovereignty, independence from England. Yet all they do is copy their moronic practices. Bugger beavers, focus on people instead.

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