From: Yale Environment 360
Published August 17, 2010 10:12 PM

Beaver Born in UK Wild for First Time in Four Centuries

Scottish conservationists say the first beaver born in Britain in nearly 400 years emerged from its lodge last month, a significant step in the reintroduction of the species that was hunted into extinction centuries ago.

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Officials with the Scottish Wildlife Trust say at least two young beavers, known as kits, were born eight weeks ago as part of a two-year effort to reintroduce the creatures to Knapdale forest,located on the Kintyre peninsula in western Scotland.

After three of 11 beavers introduced to the forest since 2008 had gone missing, another pair was added this spring. A field officer with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland first observed the young beavers venturing out of the family's lodge to forage for food.

Simon Jones, project manager for the wildlife trust, called it a "fantastic" step in reestablishing wild beaver populations in the UK. "We can now begin to see how a a small reintroduced population starts to naturally establish itself in the wild," he said.

The successful repopulation of beavers in Scotland is being watched closely in southern England and Wales, where naturalists are also trying to reintroduce the species that centuries ago was hunted for its pelts and oil.

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