A new survey indicates that the number of wild beavers in Kent now numbers in the hundreds.

Once extinct in the UK for centuries, beavers can now even be spotted in the centre of Canterbury.

Increasing reports of beaver activity along the River Stour in East Kent suggest an established population has been present for over a decade. One report author noted that Kent hosts the largest beaver population in England.

Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK about 400 years ago but were reintroduced to Kent in 2001 on a nature reserve. There are now 10 identified populations across southern England.

One of the report’s authors, Ben Morris from the Environment Agency, said: “We don’t count individual beavers because it is very difficult; they are nocturnal for the most part.

“We count territories, so we use field signs like chewed wood for example, to estimate the number of territories we’ve got.”

Experts state that up to 10 beavers can inhabit a single territory.

Mr. Morris reported 51 territories in the Stour catchment, with each averaging three to four animals.

The survey, commissioned by Natural England from December 2022 to March 2023, aimed to estimate the distribution and population size of beavers in Kent. Conducted by the Beaver Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust, the survey recorded 2,157 field signs, with cut wood being the most common.

Mr Morris added: “Beavers have a range of benefits. They help with increasing biodiversity, improving water quality and they can help with alleviating flood risk downstream.”

In 2022, beavers were granted legal protection in England, making it an offence to deliberately capture, injure, kill, or disturb them, or to damage or destroy their breeding sites or resting places without a wildlife management license from Natural England.

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, head of restoration for the Beaver Trust, said: “This comprehensive distribution survey of beavers in Kent, the first of its kind despite beaver presence being recorded for over a decade, demonstrates that beavers can become a normalised part of our fauna.”



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