A pair of Eurasian beavers were introduced into Greathough Brook, Forest of Dean in July 2018
Latest news (January 2023)
Last summer we grew concerned for one of the beavers at Greathough Brook. During spring female beavers are usually seen less as they spend more time in their lodge or burrow to have kits, emerging in summer.
However, as the female had not been seen on our trail cameras, we were concerned that she had not retreated to have young but something might have been wrong.
We increased our monitoring on the site and the local team used beaver traps baited with apples to try and capture both animals to carry out a welfare check.
During this time, and in collaboration with the Beaver Trust, the male beaver had his ear tags replaced and had a body condition check. Appearing very healthy he has put on 6.5kgs since being released.
Sadly, he was the only beaver to appear during this time. With no sign of the female, we believe that she had passed away, she would have been 6 years old.
Beavers live in family groups, so we set to find the male a companion. Fortunately, Beaver Trust were able to relocate a female beaver from Scotland. She was introduced to the lone male in October.
They found each other quickly and on the second night one of the trail cameras captured them together. Extra monitoring since the release has taken place to ensure both beavers are ok, and the female is settling well into her new home.
And happy they are… since their first meeting they have been busy working together, making another new dam, maintaining the existing ones, felling trees and grooming each other. All good signs that they are forming a pair.
We will continue to monitor their progress, supported by Beaver Trust experts.
Latest news (January 2020):
After a pause in the project two beavers are again calling Greathough Brook home.
The male and female beavers were released into the enclosure separately in early autumn last year. Captured from different areas of the river Tay in Scotland, they had been living alone without a mate.
With help from Scottish Natural Heritage the animals were captured before visiting a specialist facility at the Five Sisters Zoo. The team at Five Sisters Zoo carried out all the necessary health checks before the beavers made the long journey to the Forest of Dean.
The female beaver was the first to arrive and settled in well before being joined by the male a few weeks later. Careful monitoring by our staff revealed both beavers have settled in well with new footage released showing dam building and tree felling.
We will continue to keep you updated on how our new pair settles in and the changes they make to the site on social media.
About the project
Watch the moment the beavers were released and find out about the project.
Why have beavers been introduced at Greathough Brook?
The Eurasian Beaver is a large, semi-aquatic mammal that was once widespread throughout Britain. They were hunted to extinction by the beginning of the 16th century for their meat, fur and scent glands.
Records show that Greathough Brook was once home to thriving populations of water vole, glow worms and pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies. These species depend on light, warm conditions that can no longer be found in the area due to the shading from trees.
The beavers will begin to cut down trees almost immediately to access food and to provide material to build dams and lodges. Their dams will create pools and wetlands which will overtime increase water storage; slow water flows and improve water quality by filtering sediments and pollutants. In turn this will provide habitats for the species that once thrived in this area.
The beavers are enclosed within 6 hectares of woodland within a specially designed fence that will prevent the beavers escaping into the wider landscape of the Forest of Dean. The stream culverts, a structure that allows water to flow under a trail or similar obstruction from one side to another, are also grilled to ensure the beavers cannot move upstream or downstream into the wider catchment. The fence will also be boar proof to prevent boar accessing the beaver habitat.
The project has funding for three years during which time the beavers and their impacts on the Greathough Brook will be carefully monitored throughout. The future of the project will depend on the outcome of the monitoring and the availability of funding.
Beavers are currently living wild at various sites in the UK, including under licence at Knapdale in Scotland and on the River Otter in Devon. Here in the Forest of Dean, however, the beavers will be enclosed so that we can monitor the changes that take place to the biodiversity, habitats and water quality and flow rates. The data we gather will provide evidence to determine their impacts of beavers on the wider landscape.
Eurasian beaver facts
- They create habitat's which are vital for a range of mammal, insect, reptile, fish and bird species which once thrived in the Forest of Dean
- Build dams when the watercourse is shallow to give them a suitable living habitat
- Have a positive impact on fish populations
- Live in lodges constructed from harvested timber and mud
- They can grow as large as a Labrador but with shorter legs
- Create wetlands which benefit water retention, storage and water quality
Eurasian beaver myths: they don't...
- Eat fish - they are 100% vegetarian!
- Have a significant impact on forestry and agriculture
- Carry wildlife diseases which aren't present in the UK or are commonly transmissible to humans or domesticated livestock
- Burrow in flood defence structures where flood banks are more than 30 meters back from watercourses
Can you spot the beavers?
The best time to spot the beavers at Greathough Brook is during the spring and summer months during early mornings or evenings when they emerge from their lodges. Visitors can also visit the site to see what habitat changes the beaver have made on the forest.
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