Wild Ken Hill in Snettisham releases more beavers hailing a new era at the rewilding site
The eagerly anticipated arrival of wild beavers from Scotland at Snettisham's Wild Ken Hill took place this week with hopes it will signal the start of a new era at the 4,000-acre site.
Two male beavers caught in the wild at Tayside have been released into the territories of two female beavers, named Florence and Ebony, and it is hoped the matchmaking will result in future generations of the wild animals. The females were introduced at the site in March but lockdown prevented the males joining them.
Over the coming weeks, Wild Ken Hill also plans to reintroduce grazing animals including wild pigs, Exmoor ponies and red poll cattle in order to enhance the habitat on the overgrown heathland in the rewilding area, as well as creating the woodland pasture environment associated with very high biodiversity.
Project manager at Wild Ken Hill, Dominic Buscall, said: "We are releasing beavers at Wild Ken Hill because of their ability to create ecosystems that other species use, and boost biodiversity. Already we have seen the beavers begin to transform their enclosure into a wetter and more open habitat that will boost biodiversity over time.
"But also, the beavers at Wild Ken Hill all come from Tayside, where around 20 per cent of the wild population was killed in around seven months of 2019, under licenses provided by the Scottish government.
"In England, the beaver is not even recognised as a native animal by the government despite clear evidence to the contrary. So this release was also about securing the long-term future of this native and extremely beneficial animal in the UK."
Both male beavers, brothers named Orange and Blue in relation to the colour of their ear tags, underwent all necessary medical screening processes before being safely transported to Wild Ken Hill.
Said Dominic: "It is slightly unnatural for beavers to remain single in the wild, so the introduction of two males is great news. Hopefully the males will now pair up with the females and breed in the coming seasons.
"As the male beavers would also be coming from wild populations in Scotland, we were waiting for the right beavers to be sourced. We found out on Friday that two adolescent, healthy brothers of around 14kg each had been successfully gathered.
"These were perfect for our site, as the males were of a similar age to the females introduced in March, two to three years old, and are also less likely to be aggressive to one another because of their fraternal connection.
"So we quickly scrambled to get ready for the transportation and release of the two males, and on Sunday afternoon, both males arrived at Wild Ken Hill.
"We had experience from the previous release, and we smoothly lifted the two beaver crates into the enclosure, before carrying them to the two individual release sites."