Well I’ll be dammed, bring back beavers?

Middleton Guardian - - WILDLIFE -

IMAG­INE if beavers were in­tro­duced into ar­eas of Greater Manch­ester? I am not jok­ing, this may hap­pen in fu­ture years.

I was at a con­fer­ence this week chat­ting to Wildlife Trusts from Devon and Scot­land where these won­der­ful an­i­mals have been re­turned to a num­ber of rivers.

And the schemes have been suc­cess­ful with the river mam­mals thriv­ing in wild places.

Of course, farm­ers and fish­er­men will hold their hands up in hor­ror be­cause beavers dam rivers and feed on some crops.

How­ever, the ben­e­fits of rein­tro­duc­ing a once-wide­spread species into our lo­cal coun­try­side surely out­weighs any prob­lems they might cause.

Beavers build dams on rivers, which cre­ate pools and wet­land ar­eas – this not only im­proves water qual­ity but it in­creases the va­ri­ety of wildlife in that place. Water voles, am­phib­ians, drag­on­flies and wad­ing birds all take ad­van­tage of these ar­eas.

The dams and wet ar­eas are ex­cel­lent in help­ing to cre­ate flood­ing fur­ther down­stream, prob­a­bly sav­ing thou­sands of pounds. While beavers dam­ag­ing crops is gen­er­ally small scale, farm­ers in Scot­land have re­ceived free ad­vice and help with fenc­ing and tree guards.

On the Con­ti­nent beavers live in har­mony with farm­ers and fish­er­men, so, per­haps they could do so here.

Beavers are our largest ro­dent, with a flat tail and webbed feet, and are well-suited to a semi-aquatic life­style.

They can grow up to a me­tre long, if you take their tail into ac­count.

Imag­ine some­thing the size of a Labrador with short legs.

It has light-brown fur with small eyes and ears. Beavers also have a third, trans­par­ent eye­lid (called a nic­ti­tat­ing mem­brane) that pro­tects their eyes as they swim un­der­wa­ter. Beavers cer­tainly can be ar­chi­tects of their lo­cal land­scape, felling small trees and bushes for dam con­struc­tion.

In the past these un­for­tu­nate crea­tures came into con­tact with man and were wiped out in UK.

Now we have a chance to bring them back, be­cause we re­alise just how good they are for the coun­try­side.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side. To be­come a mem­ber of the trust, go to the web­site lanc­swt. org.uk or call 01772 324 129.

Beavers may be re­turn­ing to our wa­ters Photo: Darin Smith

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