Devon

Landowner puts £1,000 bounty on beavers

Beaver Image copyright Chris Townend/Wise Birding Holidays
Image caption A family of beavers was first spotted on the Otter in 2014

A landowner has put a £1,000 bounty on the heads of beavers he claims are felling trees on his estate.

Sir Benjamin Slade, owner of 17th Century Woodlands Castle in Somerset, thinks the animals migrated from the River Otter in Devon.

Sir Benjamin said: "I can't cope. I won't have any trees left."

However, a beaver expert who has visited the estate said the marks on the trees were not typical of them.

More on the beavers story, plus more Devon and Cornwall news

Sir Benjamin said there were at least two beavers on his property and he fears they could start breeding.

"Every time I go out there's another one [tree] gone down, it's terrible," he said.

The posters on the 12-acre Woodlands estate read: "Beaver sightings! At Woodlands Castle. Wanted dead or alive. £1,000 reward! For crimes against trees. Beavers have been cutting down our trees!"

Natural England, which licensed a pilot beaver release on the Otter, said trapping and possessing beavers would require a licence but shooting them humanely did not. However, the group added it was "not encouraging people".

The Woodlands estate has requested people ask permission to kill the beavers, which are not a protected species, before going onto its land.

Image copyright Chris Townend/Wise Birding Holidays
Image caption Natural England, which is monitoring the beavers on the Otter, said trapping beavers would require a licence

However, Derek Gow, who breeds beavers in Devon, said after visiting the site he was convinced the trees had not been damaged by the animals.

"Beavers produce distinctive scalloped chips when they gnaw trees and there weren't any," he said.

"It looks as if it has been done by humans with an axe."

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