Beaver filmed in the wild on Devon farm

Pictures of the beaver were taken near the River Otter in Devon

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A wild beaver has been caught on film at a farm in Devon.

Images of the rare animal were taken near the River Otter on Knightstone Farm in Ottery St Mary.

Farmer David Lawrence became suspicious after he spotted damage to trees, including one trunk about 1ft (30cm) in diameter bearing teeth marks.

The mammal was captured on film by retired environmental scientist Tom Buckley who said he was "very surprised" at the discovery.

'It's fantastic'

Mr Lawrence said he "nudged" Mr Buckley into examining damage to trees after some had been found knocked over on his land last autumn.

He said: "I thought at first it was someone messing about with an axe, but I contacted Tom who had his suspicions. He set up trail cameras and - hey presto - we saw what it was."

Mr Lawrence said where the beaver came from was a mystery.

He said the beaver may be roaming through three or four fields on his farm and its traces sometimes disappeared for a week at a time, meaning it "could be because he is operating in a bigger stretch [of river]".

Start Quote

If that's what he can do to a tree, what about your ankles?”

End Quote David Lawrence

He said: "He's been doing a bit of damage, but nothing major.

"I don't want to mess about with him. If that's what he can do to a tree, what about your ankles?"

Mr Buckley said he decided the area was worth filming after he realised gnaw marks on trees were similar to marks he had seen that were made by beavers in Canada.

He said of the video of the Devon animal: "I couldn't believe it. It's fantastic."

Beavers were hunted to extinction in England and Wales during the 12th Century and disappeared from the rest of the UK 400 years later.

They were hunted for their fur and throat glands, which were believed to have medicinal properties

A beaver has been spotted in the River Otter before.

Last July, Lorna Douglas claimed she saw a beaver living wild on several occasions while out walking her dogs.

Elsewhere in the county, two beavers have been kept in a secure and secret location in west Devon as part of a three-year experiment by the Devon Wildlife Trust to see if the animals can help restore wetland areas.

The pair are believed to have been to have been breeding after one kit was filmed last August.

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