'Remarkable' – Baby beavers born in Staffordshire for first time in 400 years
Staffordshire has welcomed some adorable new arrivals as beavers have been born in the region for the first time in 400 years.
A family of beavers were reintroduced to the region earlier this year at the Trentham Estate, which has the largest beaver enclosure in Britain.
Staff at the estate have now called the project a "remarkable success story" as the female beaver has given birth to a litter of kits (baby beavers).
This incredible occurrence comes after a mere three months since their relocation from Scotland to Trentham in March.
Visitors at Trentham can also book to go on a Beaver Dusk Safari or Wildlife Cruise, giving them the chance to spot the baby beavers in their 182-acre enclosure.
Harvey Tweats, beaver and wildlife ranger at Trentham, had his suspicions the female may have been pregnant as she had not been spotted away from the lodge for some time.
After testing the theory by putting an apple on a stick to get a good view of her underbelly, he consulted with experts from across the world to get confirmation. Later, the team managed to get a closer look and confirmed the birth.
Harvey said: "We are thrilled that the beavers have bred and so soon too. The kits appear fit and healthy, and it is incredible news for the estate and Staffordshire as a whole.
"This project demonstrates just how successful the relocation of beavers to suitable landscapes can be. We’re proud to be bringing back this important keystone species to England and can’t wait to see the new additions exploring their surroundings."
While the news is exciting, rangers at Trentham are warning the public that beaver kits are vulnerable to predation by foxes, birds of prey and otters – so not all kits survive.
Beavers breed once a year, mainly from December to April and litters of usually two to three kits are born in May or June. The young learn to swim within hours and leave the lodge at one to two months.
They are weaned in their first summer but may not become independent until they are two years old.
Eurasian beavers are a native species to Britain, known for their keystone effect and benefits they bring to ecosystems.
Beavers engineer their habitat by felling and coppicing trees, digging canals , burrowing and building dams where greater water depth is needed for their own safety. Thus, they create biodiverse wetlands where many other species can thrive.
Carol Adams, Trentham’s head of horticulture and biodiversity, said: “This is such amazing news and a positive step in establishing a keystone species back into a historic landscape, it will be fascinating to see how the kits get to grips with their surroundings and how the adult beavers take to parenting a larger family.
“We hope that visitors will be equally inspired by the new arrivals and want to learn more about them and feel empowered to support beavers in the landscape by experiencing their return here at Trentham.”
Carol added: “Whilst we can’t wait to share this news with the public, it’s important that visitors are mindful of the new arrivals and don’t disturb them.
"The kits will need plenty of peace and quiet to bed in, so we ask that visitors stick to the footpaths, keep a respectful distance from them, and keep dogs under close control.”
Eva Bishop, head of communications at Beaver Trust, said: "Beaver Trust is pleased to be able to collaborate with organisations like Trentham and to encourage relocation into suitable sites.
"Whilst we share the good news of relocated beavers settling well into well planned and managed enclosures, we continue to urge the Government to support the wider restoration of this species and produce a licensing framework for wild releases in England.”
Alastair Budd, senior director of Trentham, added: “We are incredibly excited to welcome new beaver kits to Trentham and further Trentham’s commitment to sustainability and biodiversity.
“The news of kits born into Britain’s largest beaver enclosure is not only a huge win for Trentham but the wider region, helping to ensure Staffordshire’s visitor economy continues to develop and thrive.
“Our work at Trentham will establish a unique and special place for the public to engage and learn more about the species and their vital role.
"Beavers are one of the most important species in our habitats and we want to help visitors to understand why this once extinct British native should be back in the English countryside, helping to restore our ecosystems and mitigate the impact of climate change.”