Wild beaver sighting solves mauled tree mystery

time:2023-06-03 02:00:57source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center5

A couple whose garden was being vandalised at night have uncovered the surprising culprit - a wild beaver.

The rodent was discovered by couple who noticed trees going missing and machete-like damage in a field next to their Pembrokeshire house.

Curious about the cause, they bought a "stealth camera" which captured footage of the creature swimming in their pond and felling their trees.

The couple said they "love watching the beaver go about his business at night".

The dam-building rodent had started to build itself a lodge under the family's pond deck at their rural property.

The origins of the beaver are unexplained, but the landowners believe it may have come from an unsanctioned release by over-zealous rewilding enthusiasts.

Nicknamed Anthony by the family - after military historian Antony Beevor - the herbivore has become as "fat as a pig" spending as much as six hours a night chewing tree trunks and dragging branches around.

The discovery marks only the fourth time a beaver has been found living wild in Britain after they were hunted to extinction in Britain 400 years ago.

The landowners, who wished to remain anonymous to protect the location of the animal, were "astonished" to discover the herbivore was living behind their house.

They said: "Some of our trees began to go missing overnight and others were simply being mauled.

"It looked like someone was hitting them with a machete... we couldn't work out what was causing the damage.

"The only clue were some teeth marks left in the bark."

Two weeks after first noticing the damage, the couple bought a £100 stealth camera and left it out overnight to try and catch the vandal in action.

When they reviewed the footage a week later, they spotted the creature.

The closest official colony of beavers to Pembrokeshire is in the Dyfi Estuary - 50 miles away in mid Wales, where no escapes have been reported.

Since their reintroduction to the UK in Argyll in 2009, beaver numbers have been increasing through enclosed colonies set up by wildlife trusts.

But this is only the fourth time a beaver has been found living wild in Britain.

Other wild populations were discovered in Scotland's Tay-Forth catchment area, in east Devon's River Otter and on the Avon near Bristol.

Beavers are protected in law in England, But in Wales, where environmental law-making is up to the Welsh government, no protection exists.

Their presence is a cause of concern for some farmers who feel their livelihoods are being threatened because beaver dams can flood valuable farmland.

But rewilders highlight the positive effects of wetland creation, providing habitat for animals like otters, water voles, toads, frogs and wildfowl.

There are no plans to reintroduce beavers to Pembrokeshire, but the Welsh Beaver Project is aiming to submit a licence application to Natural Resources Wales this year to release them in the Dyfi catchment.

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