A beaver in Germany. Photo: Getty
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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.

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Hillary and the Viking: dramatising life with the Clintons

August radio should be like a corkboard, with a few gems pinned here and there. Heck, Don’t Vote for Him is one.

Now is the season of repeats and stand-in presenters. Nobody minds. August radio ought to be like a corkboard – things seemingly long pinned and faded (an Angela Lansbury doc on Radio 2; an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor on Radio 4 Extra) and then the occasional bright fragment. Like Martha Argerich playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 1 at the Albert Hall (Prom 43, 17 August).

But on Radio 4, two new things really stand out. An edition of In the Criminologist’s Chair (16 August, 4pm) in which the former bank robber (and diagnosed psychopath) Noel “Razor” Smith recalls, among other memorable moments, sitting inside a getaway car watching one of his fellows “kissing his bullets” before loading. And three new dramas imagining key episodes in the Clintons’ personal and political lives.

In the first (Heck, Don’t Vote for Him, 6 August, 2.30pm), Hillary battles with all the “long-rumoured allegations of marital infidelity” during the 1992 Democratic primaries. Fenella Woolgar’s (brilliant, unburlesqued) Hillary sounds like a woman very often wearing a fantastically unhappy grin, watching her own political ambitions slip through her fingers. “I deserve something,” she appeals to her husband, insisting on the position of attorney general should he make it to the top – but “the Viking” (his nickname at college, due to his great head of hair) is off, gladhanding the room. You can hear Woolgar’s silent flinch, and picture Hillary’s face as it has been these past, disquieting months, very clearly.

I once saw Bill Clinton speak at a community college in New Jersey during the 2008 Obama campaign. Although disposed not to like him, I found his wattage, without question, staggering. Sweeping through the doors of the canteen, he amusedly removed the microphone from the hands of the MC (a local baseball star), switched it off, and projected for 25 fluent minutes (no notes). Before leaving he turned and considered the smallest member of the audience – a cross-legged child clutching a picture book of presidents. In one gesture, Clinton flipped it out of the boy’s hands, signed the cover – a picture of Lincoln – and was gone.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 28 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double Issue