Replacement beavers arrive after second death confirmed

Enfield Council and Capel Manor College hope it will be third time lucky for reintroduced species at Forty Hall Farm

The two new beavers are said to be getting on well
The two new beavers are said to be getting on well (credit Enfield Council)

Two new beavers have arrived in Enfield after the council revealed that a second one had died.

A female beaver that was one of the initial pair introduced a year ago at the start of Enfield Council’s rewilding project has also been removed in what was described as a “difficult decision” after both her prospective male mates died.

The council confirmed the death of the first male beaver last June but had not previously disclosed that a replacement male had also died, despite it happening several months ago. The original female was subsequently removed and relocated to a different beaver enclosure elsewhere in the country and is said to be doing well.

This winter, two more beavers arrived at Forty Hall Farm after being transferred from Scotland by wildlife charity Beaver Trust. It is understood they are an established breeding pair and have already made “incredible progress” with signs of them making dams and stripping bark. Footage captured on discreet cameras has been uploaded to the council’s YouTube channel.

Eurasian beavers were hunted to extinction in Great Britain in the 16th Century, but recent studies have shown their return to this country can bring several benefits, including the creation of habitats for other species and flood alleviation in areas downstream from where the beavers build their dams.

The beavers in Enfield are kept at an enclosure within the grounds of Forty Hall Farm, in partnership with farm managers Capel Manor College, and were the first to by released in London since their extinction – although Ealing has since got in on the act.

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After the failure of the initial pair of beavers first introduced in March last year, the six-hectare enclosure has now been enhanced with a second pond and new trees. Capel Manor College’s team continues to monitor the two beavers closely and has enlisted the help of the college’s students as part of their education and training programme.

Rick Jewell, the council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We have given the two new beavers plenty of space and time to get to know their new environment and we know the Beaver Trust is pleased with the space we have created for them.

“Once they are fully settled, we should see the area transform into a natural wetland ecosystem, with amazing flood defence properties that will contribute to our work to protect the local area and hundreds of homes downstream from flooding.”

Meg Wilson, Capel Manor College’s animal collections manager, said: “As London’s environmental college, our students and staff are at the forefront of studying animals and their impact on ecosystems.

“The beavers will naturally re-engineer the local ecosystem, carrying out the groundworks for a sustainable wetland, leading to more diverse habitats. Capel Manor College is ensuring that the beavers’ needs are met, and they have every opportunity to realise their role.”

Enfield’s beaver project is part of a wider natural flood management initiative in the borough that aims to restore local biodiversity and river habitats. Other rewilding schemes are now being planned, with grazing red poll cattle set to be introduced at a number of large parks, while habitats for kingfisher and barbel fish could also be created.

Update (27/3):

This article initially stated that both male beavers were found dead, but the Dispatch can now clarify that the second male was actually put down by a vet after being found with “several bite wounds” from the female beaver.

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