A pair of Eurasian beavers have been given their instructions and released on the edges of Exmoor, with estate managers hoping they do their usual thing and work wonders for the local wetland habitat.
They've been set free by the National Trust on the Holnicote Estate, where a fenced off bit of boggy, watery mess is hoped to become their new home. The animals' love of damming up waterways should slow the flow of water in the area, trust managers hope, lessening flood risk further downstream, while also blocking in water to help the area cope with spells of drought. We can only hope the beavers were paying attention to all these instructions at the pre-release briefing.
The beavers were taken from a wild population along Scotland's River Tay, with Natural England applying for a licence to do so from Scottish Natural Heritage. Mark Harold from the National Trust said: "We need to work with natural processes in the right places. This is a different way of managing sites for wildlife -- a new approach, using a native animal as a tool. The development of a more natural river system; the slowing, filtering and storing of water can develop a complex mosaic of habitats which are not only good for nature, but for people too." [BBC]