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Last Updated: Friday May 29 2009 11:51 GMT

Beavers back in UK after 400 years

Beavers return to UK countryside

Beavers are on the loose in the UK for the first time in 400 years.

Eleven of the wood-chewing critters have been set free as part of a scheme to see how the Scottish countryside would cope if they were re-introduced.

Beavers died out in the UK as they were hunted for their fur, so these animals were brought over from Norway.

Because there haven't been beavers in Scotland for so long, the ones that are released need to be monitored to see if they affect local plants and animals.

Some people are worried the beavers could harm salmon populations.

A beaver on the loose

But others think the dams they build could help create new wetland habitats for other species.

Going well

Simon Jones, who was in charge of the programme, said the release of the beaver families on Friday "went extremely well".

"They were placed into purpose-built artificial lodges at carefully selected points around the trial site," he said.

"They will now gradually gnaw their way out of the lodge at a pace that is comfortable for them before exploring their new surroundings."