• Hugo Swire urged to act over possible Ottery beaver cull

    21st May 2014 | News | Claire
  • Dear Hugo

    Please see the above story from today’s Independent newspaper.

    It is scandalous that DEFRA may be considering killing the beavers living on the Otter, for such a suspiciously spurious reason.

    The beavers have been a source of delight to residents, many of whom have been concerned for the welfare of the animals, especially as news of them living here has reached the national media.

    I have walked that stretch of the river many times and they have not made any noticeable negative impact on the environment.  Devon Wildlife Trust intends to monitor them – and you will be aware that in other parts of the country that beavers are being deliberately introduced because they are, after all, a native species that were hunted to extinction hundreds of years ago for their fur.  They are completely vegetarian, living on grasses and aquatic plants.

    The landowner is happy that they are living on his land and does not want them harmed.

    The story in the Independent, which I trust that you will look into – and hopefully confirm is a misunderstanding, states that the reason that DEFRA is considering a cull, is that there is a small risk that the animals may be carrying a parasite.  I have noted the cynicism on this point from Mr Gow.

    I have spoken to many people in and around Ottery about the beavers over the last few months and I can confirm that while them living on the Otter was unplanned, the animals are very affectionately regarded.  News of a possible cull will shock local residents and will cause considerable anger and opposition.

    I very much hope that you can seek immediate assurances from Mr Paterson that the story is incorrect and that the beavers will not be harmed.

    If this is not the case and DEFRA confirms that it is pursuing this course of action, I would like to know who has influenced this decision – and I hope that the residents of Ottery can rely on your support to oppose any cull.

    I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
    best wishes