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First Wild Beaver Birth In England In 500 Years Reported In Devon

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After being hunted to extinction in the 1600s, a new population of wild beavers in England has finally given birth.

A video captured by Devon local Tom Buckley shows a new breed of kits and their mother along the waters somewhere in East Devon's River Otter.

"When I saw these newborn baby beavers I was totally overwhelmed and thought it must be a miracle. My first sighting of this year's newborn kits was when I saw their mother swimming with one of them in her mouth to an area nearby where their father was waiting to greet them," said Buckley.

Buckley, however, noticed that one of the kits seemed afraid of being exposed to the big world. After swimming along and being let go by its mother, the newborn beaver went rushing back into its burrow. He concluded this might have been their first time to be out of their burrow.

"Not surprising really—the world can be a very scary place," said Buckley.

In February 2014, wild beavers were first spotted in England along the River Otter in nearly half a millennium. During the summer of the same year, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs suggested the beavers be removed from the site, for fear that the animals might be carrying a disease.

Devon Wildlife Trust gathered together a group of supportive local landowners, academic institutions and beaver veterinary and management experts to promote a project that would monitor these wild beavers.

The project captured the beavers and checked if they were healthy, then released them back into the wild.

Earlier in January, Natural English issued a license for the re-introduction of the wild beavers. They were finally returned to the River Otter in March.

Devon Wildlife Trust believes there are at least 11 beavers, including the two newborn kits. Prior to this, the last reference to beavers in England dates to as far back as 1526.

"We are thrilled that the beavers have bred. The baby kits appear fit and healthy and the adults seem as if they are taking their parenting responsibilities very seriously. It tells us that the beavers are very much at home in this corner of Devon," said Mark Elliott of the Devon Wildlife Trust.

Elliott also reminds the locals that while the wild beavers are now becoming popular, the animals will need some space and peace. Visitors should, for example, keep distance by remaining on public footpaths and keeping dogs under close control when near the river.

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