Beavers are back!

Beavers are back!

Photo © Hattie Lavender

Thank you for helping us bring beavers back

 We did it – beavers are back in Nottinghamshire after more than 400 years. 

A very big thank you to all the donors who helped us achieve this. Your support has bought back these enigmatic engineers to our county. A pair and a family with 4 kits have been released into an enclosed section of Idle Valley Nature Reserve.  

Why bring beavers back?

Idle Valley Beaver Updates

22nd November 2021: First signs of activity

We spot the first signs of beaver activity. As there is no public access into the enclosure, visitors to the reserve aren't at risk of injury from trees falling as a result of beaver activity. It's amazing to see such incredible field signs so quickly. 

Learn more about the impact beavers have on the landscape

A tree trunk gnawed by beavers in at Idle Valley

Elliott Kean / Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

9th November 2021: Beaver Release

The father of the family group has been reunited with his kits. He was a little shy and wasn't quite ready to be transported last week, but has now joined the other beavers on the reserve. This means there are now a total of 8 beavers in Nottinghamshire, reintroduced to enhance the natural environment and improve water quality.

Video © Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

5th November 2021: Beaver Release

A family group of beavers which includes 4 kits and a pair of beavers were released into the enclosure at Idle Valley Nature Reserve. 

Beaver entering water

Photo © Kirsty James

Our beaver project

We have created one of the largest beaver enclosures in the UK and in November 2021 released 8 beavers, including 4 kits (baby beavers) to this area securely separated from the River Idle and closely monitored.  

Idle Valley Nature Reserve is the largest site in our care. Beavers, alongside our conservation grazing programme, allow us to harness natural processes and unlock more of the site’s potential for wildlife.  

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We’d also like to extend our thanks to Severn Trent Water, whose Great Big Nature Boost scheme generously backed the beaver reintroduction project from the start.

Our work continues!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why have we reintroduced beaver to Nottinghamshire

Beavers aren’t just about the reintroduction of a single species – it’s about the reintroduction of an entire ecosystem that’s been lost. 

We’ve reintroduced beavers to unlock the power of nature! Beavers are nature’s finest ‘wetland engineers’. As they dig, chew through trees and create deep pools, they help create habitats that benefit other wildlife.  

Learn more about Beavers in Britain 

Why Idle Valley Nature Reserve?

The introduction of beavers kick starts our efforts to harness natural processes across the huge Idle Valley Nature Reserve alongside the expansion of our conservation grazing programme, other habitat work across the reserve and our work with other landowners to restore habitats across the wider Idle Valley landscape. 

This project could also hopefully pave the way for further beaver reintroductions in Nottinghamshire, as well as across the UK! 

Where are the beavers?

The beavers are in an enclosed area of Idle Valley Nature Reserve, near Retford. We have created one of the largest enclosures in the UK which is where the beavers have been reintroduced. It’s over 60ha and keeps them separate from the River Idle where they can be closely monitored. 

If you’d like to see the beavers there are two viewing points with views into the enclosures. There is an area to park on Chainbridge Lane. See our reserve map for details. Alternatively, use the following What3Words locations: /// or ///animate.snippets.jungle and coordinates 53°21'51.3"N 0°56'06.5"W or 53°22'04.4"N 0°56'23.8"W.

For the best chance to see signs of beaver activity and maybe even the beavers themselves, book onto one of our tours.  

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Can I come and see the beavers?

There are two viewing points where you can see into the enclosure. Beavers are fairly elusive creatures and will quickly return to their lodges if disturbed. However, it may be possible to catch a glimpse. As with any wildlife watching, you’ll need to be patient. They're most active at dawn and dusk during the summer months. 

If you’d like to see the beavers there are two viewing points with views into the enclosures. There is an area to park on Chainbridge Lane. See our reserve map for details. Alternatively, use the following What3Words locations: /// or ///animate.snippets.jungle and coordinates 53°21'51.3"N 0°56'06.5"W or 53°22'04.4"N 0°56'23.8"W.

For the best chance of seeing the beavers and signs of their presence, book onto one of our tours. 

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What do the beavers do on site?

Beavers are a special species that can play a particularly crucial role. By digging channels and damming watercourses, they create diverse wetland areas and homes for other animals like otters, water voles and water shrews. As they chew and fell trees they will help control the spread of scrub and help maintain open habitats for a range of wetland birds for which the reserve is best known. 

There isn’t running water through this section of the reserve so the beavers won’t be changing water flow by damming but we’ll still see all the other benefits that beavers bring. 

Where did Nottinghamshire’s beavers come from?

The 8 beavers reintroduced in November 2021 were humanely trapped and translocated from the Tay Valley in Scotland. With support from experts at the Beaver Trust, Seven Sisters Zoo and Nottingham Trent University we were able to bring beavers back to Nottinghamshire for the first time in over 400 years.  

Are beavers native?

Beavers are a native species to Britain. There were lost from our wetlands hundreds of years ago when they were hunted for their fur, meat and scent glands. 

Learn more about beavers

How big are beavers?

As large as a Labrador dog, Beavers are Britain’s largest rodent!

Learn more about beavers

What do they eat?

Beavers are herbivores – meaning they only eat plants. It’s a common misconception that they eat fish. Beaver eat leaves, twigs, bark and roots. They’ll eat bramble and other plants too and are big fans of Himalayan balsam which is an invasive non-native plant species that can spread easily and become problematic for our native wildflowers. 

Learn more about beavers

How quickly do beavers breed?

Baby beavers are called kits. Beavers are monogamous and tend to mate for life. They’ll give birth to 1-4 kits which then stay with their parents for a couple of years before leaving to start their own family. Whilst living in strict family groups, only the dominant pair will breed. Sometimes, young beavers can stay with their family to help their parents breed.  

Beaver kits can be vulnerable to predation by foxes, birds of prey and potentially otters, so not all kits are guaranteed to survive.  

We have plenty of space and resources in our enclosure for the beavers to expand their families. Eventually, in many years to come, we may eventually need to re-home older offspring to other projects.  

What happens if they escape?

Due to the size of our enclosure, the beavers will have everything they need within this secure zone making it highly unlikely they’ll escape. We have staff and volunteers regularly checking the fencing and in the unlikely event of a beaver escaping the enclosure, our team are trained to safely trap and release the beavers back into the enclosure. 

Will beavers kill trees?

Beavers don’t kill trees, they coppice native species like willow and alder. This means cutting a tree back to near its base where new growth will begin. This is a common woodland management practice to encourage light the ground which allows ground dwelling plants to grow and create dynamic habitats. Beaver are often known as eco-engineers, they are only doing what our team of rangers would be, but working 24/7 and doing it far better (sorry team!). 

Non-native trees such as beech and cedar will die when felled but are not the preferred tree species for beavers. If felled, deadwood provides a home for all kinds of invertebrates and even perched for birds.  

Individual trees can also be protected from the beaver’s activities if necessary using special paint or fencing.  

It is important to remembers that healthy wetlands store carbon, and that by reintroducing beavers to Idle Valley we are harnessing natural processes to tackle the nature and climate crises.  

Do beavers cause flooding?

Beavers can make rivers less prone to flash floods, reducing flooding by holding water in 'the right place’ in river headwaters, and enabling the slower release of water in drier periods. However, in our project, the beavers will be separated from the River Idle and their main benefit will be in enhancing the quality of habitat for other species. 

How are you ensuring the health and welfare of the beavers?

  • All the trapping, translocation and screening to enable the release was undertaken by experts.  

  • We have provided professional vets with details of beaver healthcare so they can be called on in case of concern for beaver welfare.  

  • Key stakeholders have been trained in beaver welfare and handling. 

  • The size of our enclosure, one of the largest in the UK, means there will be very limited human access so the beavers will be able to thrive in peace, particularly when breeding.  

What are the benefits of beavers? Will they impact wading birds?

Beaver create a mosaic of habitats, from small and large ponds, channels, vegetated margins, wet meadows and areas of mud and silt trapped behind dams. They are ecosystem engineers, and experts in wetland management, creating more diverse habitats for inhabitants, from the smallest invertebrates to large mammals. At Idle Valley Nature Reserve their efforts in helping clear scrub will also directly help us maintain key habitats for waders. 

Will the beavers introduce disease?

The beavers went through health checks and screening before they were introduced to Idle Valley. This ensured that they were healthy and free of infectious parasites and diseases.  

There is no evidence from Europe to suggest that Eurasian beavers carry bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and the risk of introducing significant disease to humans, domestic animals or wildlife from beavers in Britain is low.  

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