The five-year trial found that other creatures such as fish, insects, birds and water voles had benefitted from the presence of the beavers, who enhance wetland habitats. Their dams had also reduced the risk of flooding to some human homes.
As a result, the government announced on Thursday the beavers would be allowed to stay permanently, expanding their range naturally – the first legally sanctioned reintroduction to England of an extinct native mammal.
“This is the most groundbreaking government decision for England’s wildlife for a generation,” said Peter Burgess, Director of Conservation at Devon Wildlife Trust.
“Beavers are nature’s engineers and have the unrivaled ability to breathe new life into our rivers and wetlands.”
The beavers had caused some localized problems for a small number of landowners but these had been successfully managed, the trust said. The government said it would launch a consultation on a national approach to managing beavers.
The River Otter, like many of Devon’s rivers, is also home to otters. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Janet Lawrence)