Beavers get legal protection in England | wild animals

Beavers should be given legal protection in England meaning it is illegal to kill or harm them as they are formally recognized as native wildlife.

This is a step forward for the charismatic rodents, which were hunted to extinction in the country 400 years ago but have resurfaced as a result of illegal releases across the country.

The government has also authorized the release of beavers in enclosures, and some environmentalists hope that later this year in the upcoming beaver strategy there will be permission for the rodents to be released to roam in the wild.

It is thought that there are already hundreds of beavers in the wild along England’s waterways, and some experts believe there may be as many as 800.

New legislation, coming into effect on Oct. 1, makes it a crime to intentionally capture, kill, disturb or injure beavers, or damage their breeding or roosting sites — without having the proper permit.

The animals are known as “natural engineers” because they create wetlands – an important habitat for many plants and animals – when they build dams. They also prevent flooding and drought-related problems such as wildfires by keeping water on land.

Derek Gow, a rancher turned wild and known as one of the country’s foremost beaver experts, said: “The news that beavers will be given legal protection in England is both fitting and welcome.

“We have been very slow to recognize the critical role this species plays in creating complex wetland landscapes, which can provide resilience to the two extremes of flooding and drought. All they need from us to ensure this goal , is understanding, tolerance and space.”

There was confusion this week as the plans were set to be announced earlier but appeared to have been withdrawn at the last minute.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, said at the time: “Clarity about legal protections for beavers is crucial if populations are to recover and thrive in the long term – it is extremely disappointing that this legislation has been stalled, with no explanation why.

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“We need to see the widespread return of wild beavers to create vital wetland habitats and restore rivers, many of which have been damaged by centuries of dredging and cut from floodplains. As England grapples with a wildlife and climate emergency, we need our beavers back. ”

However, sources at Defra blamed the rush to legislate for the recess for the delay, saying they always intended to enshrine this protection in law, as it is a legal requirement under the Berne Convention.

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