Beavers return to Norfolk centuries after being hunted to extinction

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR - Credit: AW PR

A night-vision camera strapped to a tree captures one of the first beavers to be seen in Norfolk for centuries.

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR - Credit: AW PR

Wild Ken Hill has been given a licence to introduce six of the animals to an enclosed 60-acre area between the A149 and Snettisham Beach, near Heacham.

It is hoped the creatures’ dams will improve habitats by trapping silt and creating pools which will benefit plants and other species.

The first two females have been released and appear to be settling in, pottering around a wetland.

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR - Credit: AW PR

Dominic Buscall, project manager for Wild Ken Hill – a farm which is being returned to nature - said: “We are chuffed to see that the beavers have settled in well to their new environment.


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“We want to say a huge thank you for those involved in the delivery of this conservation work, particularly Natural England for support in funding the enclosure, Five Sisters Zoo in Scotland for carefully looking after the beavers during captivity, and to Derek Gow and Roisin Campbell-Palmer for their help and support during the entire process.

“Now we plan to release two males, to create two pairs of beavers that hopefully will breed. We will trap and release the additional two when the trapping season reopens in August, and once the virus is under control and

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR

Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham which is being returned to nature Picture: AW PR - Credit: AW PR

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lockdown measures are reduced in severity.”

Wild Ken Hill is pledging to “drastically change” the way land is used to deliver benefits for people, wildlife and the climate by “rewilding” the countryside.

Beavers were once common in Norfolk. But the animals disappeared in the 16th Century, after being hunted to extinction for their pelts, meat and scent glands.

The beaver on the village sign at Babingley Picture: Ian Burt

The beaver on the village sign at Babingley Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

As aquatic animals, they were classed as fish meaning their meat could be eaten on Fridays.

A beaver with a bishop’s mitre features on the village sign at nearby Babingley.

Legend has it a colony of the animals swam out to rescue St Felix when his ship sank in a storm in 615AD.

St Felix consecrated the head of the beaver clan as a bishop by way of thanks.

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