Licensed beavers released in Wales for the first time

By Mari Grug
BBC News

Media caption,
Beavers back in Wales' Dyfi Valley for first time in 400 years

The first officially-licensed beavers have been released in Wales.

The pair - an adult male and its offspring - arrived from Scotland on Friday to their new home on the Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve in Powys.

Some fishermen and farmers had opposed the plans amid concerns over the potential impact on the landscape.

However, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has granted the project, run by Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, a licence to release up to six beavers.

Hunted for their meat and fur, beavers disappeared from the UK during the 16th Century.

It is hoped re-introduction of the mammals will help fell willow trees while environmentalists claim there will be further benefits in stabilising ecosystems.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said it was impossible to guarantee wild animals would stay in enclosed pens and has raised concerns over the possible damage to river banks, flooding and loss of agricultural land.

Image source, Emyr Evans
Image caption,
Television presenter Iolo Williams released the pair in the nature reserve

The adult beaver, a rare black morph, is named after Welsh pirate Barti Ddu. His offspring is yet to be named.

Naturalist and television presenter Iolo Williams welcomed the pair to the reserve near Machynlleth and said it was a "big day".

"They [beavers] used to be here, they should be here and I would like to see them back on Welsh rivers," he added.

"They can help tackle important issues like flooding, creation of new habitats - they're an important part of that as environmental engineers."

There are plans to introduce the rest of the family unit from Scotland in the coming weeks.

"This is just the first half of the family with the mother coming shortly," said Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer of the Scottish Beaver Trial.

"They had all their health screening before they came. You could see on release they were very relaxed and really enjoying their new environment so we are very happy."

Image caption,
The Welsh Beaver Project's Alicia Leow-Dyke hoped the mammals would be a "tourism boost"

In a separate project, North Wales Wildlife hopes to release 10 pairs of free-roaming beavers into the River Dyfi.

Alicia Leow-Dyke of the Welsh Beaver Project hoped the mammals would bring a "tourism boost" to mid Wales.

She said: "There is a lot of interest around beavers and tourism and we've already had people asking when they can come and see them.

"We have seen it with other projects in Scotland and England, there was huge tourism interest that coincided with that work."