Once-extinct in Britain, it is thrilling to see theses magical ‘dam-builders’ back ‘beavering away’ energetically in Cornwall. They are quite cute, too, though most of us have probably never seen one except in a zoo.
Beavers were once native to our shores but were sadly hunted down for their fur, while their vanilla-perfumed scent glands were valued in food and perfume. Now, they are back on the ascendant in Cornwall.
Beavers are nocturnal, semi-aquatic animals who can impressively stay under water for up to fifteen minutes. Spaniel-size, they also swim pretty fast. They just love creating dams, assisting humans in the battle against flooding. Their carefully constructed ‘lodges’ help to protect them from predators, which helps other species such as water voles and otters, too.
Beavers were reintroduced to Cornwall in 2017 by Chris and Janet Jones of Woodland Valley Farm, in a ground-breaking project on their specially fenced 5-acre site. On their farmland above the village of Ladock, a stream has been fenced to create a beaver enclosure. Two adult beavers were released there and left to start dam building, to alleviate flooding and improve water quality. After 8 weeks, the two beavers one male, one female, had constructed 4 dams, creating for themselves a deeper pond while alleviating flooding.
If you’d like to visit the beavers, The Cornwall Beaver Project runs bookable weekly beaver walks from spring through to autumn. Visitors can see the beaver dams in daylight, then sit until dusk to try and glimpse the animals as they emerge. All Beaver Project Guided Walks for individuals, families and small groups are available to book now online. The Cornwall Beaver Project info (including video) is here.