Gloucestershire

Beavers may return to Forest of Dean for first time in 400 years

A beaver Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Beavers have not lived in the Forest of Dean for 400 years

A family of beaver could be released into a fenced area of the Forest of Dean as soon as September.

The Forestry Commission wants to release the animals into a 16-acre area by the Greathough Brook, near Brierley.

It is hoped they will dam the stream to create new wildlife habitats and reduce the flood risk around Lydbrook.

Beavers were hunted to near-extinction for their highly valuable fur and oil, but have survived in captivity.

Their reintroduction, as part of a three-year trial, would be be the first time the animals have been seen in the Forest for 400 years.

In other areas of the UK where beavers live wild some farmers have complained of damage to their land, but the Forestry Commission says there is no chance of that happening in the Forest.

"The trial here is going to be fenced to stop boar getting in and stop the beavers getting out," said spokesman Kevin Stannard.

"We are well embedded on the public forest estate so there is, I would say, absolutely no chance of the beavers escaping, or if they do escape, getting out onto surrounding farmland."

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