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Beavers return to Norfolk centuries after being hunted to extinction

PUBLISHED: 09:26 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:17 20 April 2020

A beaver is captured on a night-vision camera at Wild Ken Hill  Picture: AW PR

A beaver is captured on a night-vision camera at Wild Ken Hill Picture: AW PR

AW PR

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

A beaver carries wood across a sluice at Wild Ken Hill Picture: AW PRA beaver carries wood across a sluice at Wild Ken Hill Picture: 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.

Two beavers have been successfully reintroduced at Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham, Norfolk as part of a rewinding programme at this unique coastal estate. Picture: AW PRTwo beavers have been successfully reintroduced at Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham, Norfolk as part of a rewinding programme at this unique coastal estate. Picture: 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.

“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.

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“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

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.

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

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.

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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