Close cookies panel

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience.

If you continue, we'll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website.

Lower Knapp Farm

Devon, England

Extinct mammal returns to Devon

Posted by Luci Ackers on Jul 09, 2015
Beaver in Devon
Beaver in Devon
  • Beaver in Devon
  •  Image credit: Devon Wildlife Trust - Martin Hughes-Games and Mark Elliott, DWT River Otter Beaver Project officer.


Beavers have set up home along the River Otter!

It was recently discovered that Beavers are once more living and breeding in England. And this news is of huge national importance as it has been almost 500 years since they were last here.

Beavers, once widespread in Britain, had been hunted to extinction in England by the 16th century, targeted largely for their fur. Now almost 500 years later there's been a fantastic breakthrough. It started with a sighting at the tail end of 2013; three beavers were spotted on a stretch of the River Otter in south-east Devon. There have been a few successful reintroductions elsewhere in the UK in previous years, but these three would be the first known beavers living outside captivity in England, and if assumptions were correct that the smallest was a juvenile then it would mean these beavers were also a breading pair. Even better news!

It was unknown where the beaver family came from, or in fact if there were more of them, and concerns arose around the possibility of the animals carrying strange diseases that could endanger other local wildlife. That being said, it was fantastic to see wild beavers and these creatures are hugely beneficial to local ecosystems. Beavers are known as 'keystone species' and their habits and activities impact their surroundings.

Dam-building reduces erosion of rivers by slowing down the flow and also improves water quality, the dams and burrows and nibbled-up branches provide great habitats for a range of other creatures. A long decision process followed the beaver discovery in which Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Natural England and the Devon Wildlife Trust worked towards a solution which would allow the beavers to stay, whilst securing a solution to the risks.


Finally it was decided in January 2015 that Natural England would grant the Devon Wildlife Trust a five year licence to monitor the beavers, allowing them to remain on the River Otter. Five beavers in total were captured in order for a number of necessary health checks to be conducted.

Eventually all five beavers were given a clean bill of health, meeting the required criteria set by Natural England for their re-release, which took place in March 2015. This monumental leg of their story was covered in the 2015 season of Springwatch on the BBC.

Pictured: Martin Hughes-Games and Mark Elliott, DWT River Otter Beaver Project officer. Image credit: Devon Wildlife Trust

Since then the beavers have been doing well and their most recent milestone came just a couple of weeks ago. Settled and happy back home on the River Otter the female gave birth to kits at the end of June 2015.

Tom Buckley was the man responsible for capturing the first footage of the wild beavers all those months ago in early 2014 and, more recently, he managed once again to provide the first evidence that the beavers have had kits, catching the familiy on film. This makes these babies the first to have been born as part of England's first ever wild beaver trial. You can see the footage and learn a little more on the Wildlife Trusts website.

According to the BBC this is the only time an extinct mammal has been reintroduced to England. The beavers are healthy and will most likely produce one litter per year.

The current kits will take two to three years to reach sexual maturity and as yet there are no plans to tag them or track them, as the Devon Wildlife Trust aims to disturb them as little as possible. One thing that's certain though is that many people are very pleased these charismatic critters are back on our soils.

The self-catering properties of Lower Knapp Farm are just a short distance from the picturesque River Otter. Even if you don't manage to spot any of these cheeky inhabitants, it's still a great area for walks. Lower Knapp also provides an ideal base from which to reach the lovely coastline which is only a 15 minute drive away. Find out how to stay here by following the link below.

Share this post:
Luci Ackers
Author: Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

0 Comments related to this article
Submit a Comment
Cancel Reply
Name *  
Email address *    
Comment *  
Submit Comment

All comments will be moderated before being displayed

How do I find out more?
Request our beautifully illustrated brochure

Lower Knapp Farm is part of the Holiday Property Bond's growing portfolio of outstanding holiday properties throughout the UK and Europe, imaginatively created over 32 years to combine "home from home" comfort with total relaxation. Currently the portfolio features 35 holiday developments, all in stunningly beautiful locations across 13 countries, with over 1,400 individual villas, apartments and cottages.

For a summary of how HPB can give you and your family a lifetime of wonderful holidays and the risks as well as the benefits of an investment please read "How and how much" below.

Then we would be delighted to send you our brochure, including our property portfolio, along with our full length DVD introduced by Bondholder Sue Barker and a list of forthcoming Open Days and Exhibitions. Please just complete and submit this form or telephone our FREE brochure line on 0800 230 0391.

Request a brochure
Title *  
First Name *  
Surname *  
Email address  
Postcode *  
Telephone number
How did you hear about us?

We will use the details you provide above to send you our detailed HPB brochure and keep you updated about HPB holiday offers.

* Indicates required fields

This advertisement is issued by HPB Management Limited ("HPBM") registered at HPB House, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 8EH. HPBM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is the main UK agent and the property manager for HPB, issued by HPB Assurance Limited ("HPBA") registered in the Isle of Man and authorised by the Financial Services Authority there. The Trustee of HPB is HSBC Trustee (C.I.) Limited registered at HSBC House, Esplanade, St Helier, Jersey, JE1 1GT. The Securities Manager is Stanhope Capital LLP of 35 Portman Square, London, W1H 6LR.

Holders of policies issued by HPBA will not be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if the company becomes unable to meet its liabilities to them but Isle of Man compensation arrangements apply to new policies. No medical examination required. HPB is available exclusively through HPBM who will only charge for their services if you invest. HPBM promotes only HPB and is not independent of HPBA.

AS FEATURED IN The Telegraph BBC Daily Mail The Sunday Times