First Wild Beaver Seen in England for 800 Years

This video is proof that a beaver is alive and well in England, centuries after they were believed to have gone extinct in that country. No one is sure how it got there, but it's munching on trees in Devon.


According to Scientific American's John Platt, beavers are a success story in the annals of extinction. A little over a century ago, their population had plummeted to 1,200 beavers worldwide; today their population numbers over a million individuals. They're returning to all their old haunts, including England.

Environmental scientist Tom Buckley filmed the beaver with a camera trap. Platt writes:

Of course the big question remains: Where the heck did the beaver come from? It seems just a wee bit unlikely that a beaver could swim over to the British Isles from France or Germany or Belgium, each of which have healthy populations. Could it have slipped away from captivity? There's precedent: Three beavers escaped from the set of a planned wildlife photography business back in 2008; two females were quickly recaptured but it took until 2012 to locate the male. (The poor thing was found in a farmer's slurry pit, covered in animal waste.) Could one of the females have secretly given birth while she was AWOL? Or could the beaver have slipped away from some other captive setting? The nearby Devon Wildlife Trust holds several beavers as part of a planned reintroduction, but they are reportedly all accounted for.

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Animal wildlife doesn't work like Warhammer 40K's orcs, it doesn't just spontaneously reappear out of the soil from spores centuries after disappearing. It has to come from somewhere. The fact there are beavers kept nearby pretty much dictates that is where this came from, whether they claim their beavers are accounted for or not. Perhaps they bred and a young one escaped. If it's like wildlife sanctuaries I've visited it's entirely possible someone just lifted one from an enclosure and let it go outside. The point is, it's hardly "spotted for the first time in 800 years" if we put it there is it. And, if it's alone, it will die, which will hardly qualify as re-extinction. Frankly it's a stretch of the word "wild". That rather implies a population, not a doomed escapee. If a lion escapes from London Zoo will we get articles about wild lions migrating to Britain?