Well I’ll be dammed, bring back beavers?
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