Beavers living on Devon’s River Otter face culling if they test positive for a rare parasite. If the parasite, a form of tape worm which can spread to humans, is found in any of the 10 beavers currently living in the area, the infected animals will have to be killed.
The University of Exeter has been working with charities to monitor the beavers, who are the only colony in the UK. Their investigation observes the effects of the beaver’s dam building. University researchers are working with the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs to ensure safe and humane methods are used to capture and test the beavers for parasites.
Prior to the Ottery St. Mary project, beavers had not lived in the UK for 400 years. The project to reintroduce the species into UK waters has cost £54,000 and will run until 2020. Support for the beavers has been strong, with £45,000 being raised to assist the project within the first two months of its announcement.
Following the announcement of the possible cull, a public meeting was held, attended by over 50 people, to discuss how the colony will be effected. Beavers will be held for a maximum of two weeks before being rereleased into the wild, providing they are in good health.
Experts predict that the family will be given the all clear. This is because although the parasite has been present in beaver populations in Europe, there are currently no reported cases in the UK and there is no reason to suppose it has infecteded the Ottery beavers. Tests are due to take place in July.
Katie Costello, News Teambookmark me