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Wild beavers discovered at

Heal Somerset rewilding site

02 May 2024

The national charity Heal Rewilding has discovered wild-living beavers at its Heal Somerset site.

This keystone species, known for its ability to modify habitat and transform landscapes, have turned up through natural dispersal rather than a reintroduction programme.

Heal acquired the site in December 2022 and the beavers appeared just over a year later in a tributary of the River Frome which runs through the heart of the site. Their presence on site was confirmed through observation and surveying, including the use of remote cameras used to capture images and videos of wildlife in their natural habitats.

Based on the activity seen on site, one or more young beavers are now exploring the land to see if it is suitable as new territory for them. Beaver Trust, the charity whose mission is to restore beavers to Britain, has suggested that it is likely to be kits from beaver families already established in the surrounding area. 

There are no signs yet of dams or a lodge being built but the Heal Somerset team will be monitoring carefully for any signs of this. A lodge is a dome-shaped structure constructed by beavers as their home, made from mud, sticks and branches. Beavers are legally protected in England, meaning it is illegal to kill or harm them as they are formally recognised as native wildlife.

Jan Stannard, Heal’s Chair of Trustees and acting CEO, said: “Seeing these ecosystem engineers on our land is the most exciting wildlife event since we arrived at the site. They are a sign of nature taking back some control and could provide a crucial first step for natural processes to take shape. Beavers create thriving ecosystems by building dams, digging canals, and creating habitats rich in valuable dead wood. They restore wetland areas which reduces flood risks,and helps us adapt to the impacts of climate change. We really hope that they will find the habitat suitable and remain for the long term.”

Eva Bishop, Head of Communications at the Beaver Trust, said: “Beavers are a highly adaptable, mobile species which belong in our landscape. It is great to see this demonstration of them fitting back in and that land managers are welcoming of their arrival. Heal Somerset are taking a pragmatic approach of monitoring the wild animal's return, maintaining their own adaptability and learning to live alongside the beavers.”.

You can see footage of 'our' beavers here.

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