A beaver in Germany. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

The government is capturing wild beavers for the first time in centuries

Beavers are the new badgers as the government's decision to trap England's wild beavers causes outrage among wildlife lovers.

Beavers. They're the ones who build dams and have tails that look like scaly ping-pong bats. They are very resourceful creatures who usually appear in fiction as industrious yet cosy folk, just hanging out, working on their dams and paddling with efficiency. Tory values, really. Ironic then that the government has decided to capture and house in a zoo England's first wild family of beavers in about 500 years.

The beavers live somewhat confusingly in a place called the River Otter, which is in Devon, and were first spotted in February this year in video footage captured by a local environmental scientist.

Defra minister George Eustice told parliament yesterday: "We intend to recapture and rehome the wild beavers in Devon and are currently working out plans for the best way to do so. All decisions will be made with the welfare of the beavers in mind. There are no plans to cull beavers."

But campaign group 38 Degrees has started a petition called "SAVE THE FREE BEAVERS OF ENGLAND" to send to the department, which states, "The beaver was hunted to extinction and we have a duty to bring them back to our rivers."

Here's the original footage of the family:

Here are some beavers:

A North American beaver. Photo: Getty

 

 

North American beavers. Photo: Getty

A beaver in Germany. Photo: Getty

A Scottish beaver. Photo: Paul Stevenson/Getty

A beaver in Germany. Photo: Getty

A beaver in Oregon. Photo: Bill Damon/Flickr

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Wikimedia
Show Hide image

"Samphire": a poem by Alison Brackenbury

"Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light. . . ."

My grandmother could cook it, for
she grew up by that dangerous shore
where the sea skulked without a wall

where I have seen it, tough as grass,
where silent men with rods trooped past
its salty ranks, without a glance.

Lear’s gatherer hangs perilously.
Why? So much is closed to me.
Did Shakespeare ever hear the sea?

Once, said my father, far inland,
from friend or stall, one clutch was found,
steamed, in my grandmother’s great pan.

Once, a smooth leaflet from a shop
claimed they could “source it”, but they stocked
bunched, peppered cress – Another gap.

Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light,
stalks I will never taste, could make
tenderly dark, my coast’s sly snake,
salt on my tongue, before I wake.

Alison Brackenbury is an award-winning poet. Her ninth collection, Skies, will be published by Carcanet in March

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle