Nature reserve introduces Eurasian beavers to the Wensum Valley

Nigel Middleton Conservation Officer at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve releasing the beavers on April 21

Nigel Middleton Conservation Officer at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve released the beavers on April 21 - Credit: Jacob Kenworthy

A Norfolk nature reserve has introduced a pair of beavers.

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve released a pair of Eurasian beavers into an enclosure on Thursday, April 21, as part of the Sculthorpe Recovery, Biodiversity Gain and Flood Diversion Project.

The project will examine the effects that beavers have on the biodiversity of the landscape, which will be closely studied over the next five years.

The beavers are in a separate enclosure away from the river.

One of the main reasons they have been brought in is to help the trust understand their ecology and management, as beavers do not coexist in Norfolk in human-dominated landscapes.

The trust is also hoping to understand how beavers can help ease flooding in the River Wensum, which has been destroying wildlife habitat. 

The project has been made possible by a grant of £247,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) Green Recovery Challenge Fund, as well as donations totalling £27,500 from the public.

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Staff at Sculthorpe Moor, along with volunteers and contractors, have worked countless hours planning and preparing for the animals' arrival. 

They worked together to construct the enclosure, which is surrounded by 2km of fencing, a new hide, silt traps and artificial beaver lodges.

The male beaver was caught directly in Scotland by Roisin Campbell-Palmer of the Beaver Trust, and was a wild creature removed from a conflict site under licence.

Health screening was carried out using facilities at the Five Sisters Zoo near Edinburgh. He is estimated to be between two and four years old. 

Nigel Middleton Conservation Officer at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve released the beavers on April 21

Nigel Middleton Conservation Officer at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve released the beavers on April 21 - Credit: Jacob Kenworthy

Meanwhile, the female beaver was the oldest daughter from a pair which were trapped and removed from a Scottish conflict site four years ago by the trust. 

The three-year-old has not bred before, having come from a project run by Cath Bashforth from Forestry England in Yorkshire.

She was temporarily held for two weeks at Flamingo Land Resort, also in Yorkshire, which has donated captive care costs.