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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 12:58 GMT
Beavers set for return to Wales
Beaver
Beavers would be closely monitored
Beavers could be reintroduced to Wales for the first time in nearly 1,000 years.

Conservationists are considering an initiative to return the animal to the wild in parts of south West Wales during the next two years.

Derek Moore
Derek Moore: Beavers can help alleviate flooding

Experts believe the move would be beneficial to local wildlife.

The project would be strictly controlled, and wildlife managers have said the animals would not pose any problems to the farming community.

Areas around Llyn Brianne,Tregaron and the Gwendraeth valley would provide potential sites for consideration.

Derek Moore, from the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said the scheme was still in its early stages.

"We are about a year or two away from anything," he said.

"The last record we have of beavers in Wales is on the Teifi marshes near Cardigan in the 11th century.

"The UK is the only place in western Europe which has not yet re-introduced beaver.

"They are on the Rhine in Holland and along the Loire in France, so they are that close to us," he added.

Beaver lodge
The European beaver is not known for building lodges

"Part of their behaviour is to raise water levels, so they can play an important part in helping to alleviate flooding by managing wet and boggy upland areas."

The beaver was originally hunted for its fur, its meat and a scent gland which was said to cure headaches.

A pilot project is already up and running on marshland in Kent, England, where a family of beavers was introduced earlier this year.

But a Scottish trial to reintroduce the animal to the UK for the first time in 400 years was postponed because of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

The Scottish Natural Heritage scheme in Argyll could see beavers return next year, despite some fears that beavers might damage salmon fisheries and could carry disease.

But Derek Moore said the animals would not cause these problems.

"They are vegetarians so are no threat to fish stocks," he said.

"They eat bark and tree foliage and happily live alongside otters," he said.

Support

Mr Moore explained there were two species of beaver.

"The north American beaver is more of an engineer and will build big dams and lodges to live in.

"But the European beaver tends not to do that, and will use smaller lodges or make use of holes in river banks."

The initiative has been welcomed by the farming community in west Wales.

Peter Davies of the Farmers Union of Wales said: "From what we have heard these animals should not represent any problem or cause any worry to farmers.

"The diversity of wildlife has to be good for the rural economy."


More from south west Wales
See also:

07 Feb 01 | Scotland
20 Jan 01 | UK
07 Mar 00 | Scotland
18 Nov 02 | Wales
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