Defra has brought forward legislation to give the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) legal protection from deliberate harm in England from October.
Beavers will be listed under Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations, making it an offence to intentionally capture, kill, disturb or injure them, or damage where they breed and rest. The Eurasian beaver will also be officially recognised as a “native animal”, however, a licence will still be required to release them into the wild.
The new legislation will also allow Natural England to grant wildlife management licences for landowners to control beaver populations in places where they are having a negative impact.
Beavers were previously widespread in the UK but were hunted to extinction around 400 years ago. Following unauthorised releases in Devon, trials have been set up to monitor the effects of beavers on the local environment.
The full government response to a recent consultation on whether and how beavers should be released and managed in the wild is expected in the autumn.
CIEEM Head of Policy Jason Reeves said:
CIEEM is pleased to see progress on reintroducing beavers to England. As ecosystem engineers, beavers can have wide-ranging benefits for other species – including humans – as we collectively work to restore the depleted nature of England.