Today, on 12th July 2023, a family of Eurasian Beavers took their first steps onto Northumbrian land for the first time in around 400 years, in an enclosed release at National Trust Wallington near Morpeth.
This excellent step toward nature restoration in Northumberland is thanks to a lot of people collaborating for this single positive, pioneering step from National Trust Wallington, Beaver Trust, Five Sisters Zoo, and with the vital support of North East based charity, Reece Foundation.
We (Heather and Cain) were honoured to have been invited by the National Trust to attend this momentous occasion, and have been eagerly waiting to tell you all about it! Many of you will be aware that we’ve been working in various ways with beavers for around 10 years now, and have been waiting for the special day that we see them in our county. Finally, day was that day!
Amongst a small crowd of press and invitees, we quietly waited whilst NT Wallington rangers made the final preparations of the release site. This involved spreading some of the scent-marked straw the beavers have bedded with whilst in the excellent holding facility at Five Sisters Zoo, who undertake the health screening and other vital checks required to translocate the mammals. Beavers are quite resilient when it comes to translocations, but having that familiar smell is a good addition to ensure young kits are comfortable in their new home. Just like how we feel when we smell the perfume of someone we love!
The rangers retreated back into the shrubbery, and once again we waited.
Not long after, one by one, four transport crates were carefully carried along to the burn – the chosen release site for the family of four – each heavy with their precious beaver cargo. The release site had been selected following feasibility studies and site assessments, and under the long-practiced expertise of Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, Beaver Restoration Manager for Beaver Trust.
Once the crates were aligned, with pools of water visible to the new residents, the latches were opened and finally – a distinctive clawed foot took its first step onto Northumbrian land, the first for around 400 years. Individually, the beavers made their way out of their crates, and into the fresh pools and luscious vegetation in this quiet, private part of the NT Wallington estate. Hushed gasps filled the air, as this lost species finally began its journey of recovery right there in front of our eyes.
Immediately, the tell-tale sound of content beavers emerged from the water, whilst the family calmly gnawed and chewed on Willow in the burn and socialised with one another.
We have been honoured and delighted to witness this special occasion today, and are excited to finding out what this exciting new chapter will lead to for the beaver family, NT Wallington, and Northumberland.
To celebrate these aquatic engineers returning to our beautiful county, we’ll be sharing a beaver post on our social media channels every Thursday! So keep a look out for intriguing insights, videos, blogs and interviews about beavers in Britain, and beyond, on Wild Intrigue Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
*Licences for wild beaver releases aren’t yet available in England, so this enclosed release is a huge positive step forward toward the restoration of this vital keystone species in Northumberland, and a pioneering move from the National Trust at Wallington.
Please note that the Beavers are not in a public area of the NT Wallington estate, and the family need time to settle into their lovely new surroundings.