Support for Beavers in East Devon

November 25, 2014

Tale Valley Trust (TVT) support for wild beavers in the river Otter Catchment

The Trustees of the TVT wish to endorse the proposals to allow wild beavers to remain in the Otter catchment, managed & monitored by Devon Wildlife Trust.

The TVT is dedicated to the regeneration, conservation and environmental education of the Tale Valley.  The river Tale is the main tributary of the river Otter.  Since 1999 the charity has worked closely with riparian owners to enhance habitat along the river corridor. 25 farm plans were drawn up by WCRT and implemented in 2001. 7Km of bankside was voluntarily fenced off to exclude cattle from the river. In 2004 water voles were reintroduced and are still thriving 10 years later. 

One issue landowners have is that where stock is excluded they have increased management issues with coppicing & control of invasive species.  Beavers of course would do some of this rotational clearance.  TVT volunteers clear the balsam 4 times annually and when speaking to landowners and the Valley community have encountered no concerns over the return of beavers – only enthusiasm and encouragement.  Since 2007 evening beaver watches at Escot Park have given many locals the opportunity to see for themselves how this keystone species operates.  Localised flooding of adjacent land when ditches are dammed is the main concern, together with erosion and bank collapse from tunnelling.  Riparian crop damage is not a concern since much of the valley floor is permanent pasture land.

The TVT is very keen to pursue water quality monitoring in partnership with the WCRT and implement necessary improvements.   Beavers unquestionably would contribute to improved water quality and the Trustees are excited at the prospect of being part of a science based national showcase project to demonstrate the positive impacts on diffuse pollution reduction.

The river Tale is an important spawning resource & nursery for brown trout – themselves a BAP species.  Beavers would be a huge asset in improving conditions of gravel beds & nursery pools, reducing dark ‘desert’ stretches of water, encouraging river weed, insect life, and so on.  Currently there is little or no fly fishing on the Tale because of this excessive overgrowth and deep, steep sided river banks - again beavers would contribute to improving this.  

Originally funded by the TVT, there are now 2 full time environmental educators in the Tale Valley, based at Escot Park, with over 5000 pupil visits annually, both residential and day.  The river corridor plays a major role as a teaching resource, as does the ¾ acre beaver enclosure.  Most concerns over beaver reintroduction are as a result of ignorance and misinformation.

The Tale Valley Trust and Escot Education are very keen to be part of a project which spreads the message that beavers do not eat fish.  The proposed project has the Trust’s full support. Please consider us as a partner.

tags: beavers,wildlife

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