Beavers: Common Sense may have broken out at Defra

The Beavers of the River Otter in Devon have been under threat of being “rehomed” in a zoo, thanks to pressure from The Angling Trust (no beavers do not eat fish). This was partly due to paranoia that the beavers may harbour a very nasty parasite called Echinococcus multilocularis. This was used previously as an excuse to evict the beavers.

However, it later emerged that Public Health England had already advised Defra that there risk of human infection was so low as to be discounted.

Now Defra is visibly shifting its position, under pressure from Friends of the Earth who are threatening legal action, and Devon Wildlife Trust who have applied for a licence to monitor the released Beavers. The landowner on which the Beavers live, the local community and the public at large all want the Beavers to be left alone.

Defra has now stated that

Our priority has been to ensure humane treatment for the beavers while safeguarding human health, so we’ll be testing the beavers close to the River Otter which will be better for their welfare than moving them elsewhere.

“We have a licence to capture the beavers, which we need to do to test them humanely for the disease EM (Echinococcus multilocularis) which has the potential to be very harmful to human health should it become established in the UK.”

She said that the government agency Natural England was “expected to make a decision soon” on an application by Devon Wildlife Trust for the beavers to be released if clear of the disease.

Judging by correspondence released following an FoI request, it seems that Defra is happy for the Otter Beavers to be tested for EM at AHVLA’s labs in Weybridge, rather than being taken to their HQ in York. Even so, this is likely to place the animals under considerable stress. Let us hope that they are not too traumatised by the experience.

Could we be seeing Defra take some sensible decision-making about wild mammals in England, thanks to the high priest of the badger sacrifice cult, Owen Paterson, being removed? Hopefully. But let’s not get too excited.

New Defra boss Liz Truss may like bees (up to a point) but she also supports the Badger Cull, though only tacitly it would seem, given her relative silence on the issue.

About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in angling, badgers, Beavers, bees, Defra, Liz Truss, Owen Paterson and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Beavers: Common Sense may have broken out at Defra

  1. Mud-Lark says:

    Common sense in Defra, now that is definitely a mega rare species! Perhaps though as the election draws ever closer the civil servants realise they may face new bosses?

    See the Badger Trust’s press release which informs us that ….Leaked figures from Defra published today have revealed the cost of the 2013 badger cull – but missed out £3.5 million spent on policing the operation.

    The front page of Daily Telegraph today says that each badger killed during last year’s cull cost £3000, with 1,879 badgers being killed at the cost of £6.3 million. However, a glaring omission from the figures is the £3.5m cost of policing the cull. When this is added on, the cost per badger is actually £5,200.

    2014 figures will be interesting, not forgetting that Ms Truss stood the Independent Expert Panel down, too risky to monitor effectiveness, humaneness &c.? Excellent lobbying by commercial advocates for vested interests?

    Common sense in defra – there must be a tad somewhere, let’s hope the rare species multiply …. ever an agnostic.

    • Miles King says:

      Thanks mud-lark.

      True – but if there is even a tiny spark of common sense in amongst the fetid dampness of Defra’s badger cult, it’s worth us all blowing on it, in the hope that spark may become a small flame….

      • Mud-Lark says:

        Quite, can ‘we’ keep the blue touch paper lit and to time? Will there ever be a ‘Conservation Party’ to take on the monster created by the political capitalists who prefer profit and personal power to principles?

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