River Otter Beaver Trial

Beaver being re-released in the River OtterBeaver re-release © Nick Upton/ naturepl.com

Devon Wildlife Trust is the lead partner in England’s first licensed beaver re-introduction and monitoring project, on the River Otter in east Devon.


Hoping to see beavers?

At this time of year, you are very unlikely to see the beavers in daylight hours. But if walking on footpaths bythe River Otter, our advice to visitors is always: keep to public rights of way, keep your dog under close control and follow the Countryside Code.

How are the beavers doing?

River Otter Beaver Trial - 2017 reportGet all the latest news from the River Otter Beaver Trial in our latest download newsletter.


In spring 2017 we released a report that summarises the results of the research being undertaken in Devon to investigate the effects of beavers on the water environment.

Click here to learn more about the impacts of nature's fascinating water engineers.

Devon's beavers urgently need your support

Four hundred years after England’s beavers were hunted to extinction, a wild breeding population is living on Devon’s River Otter. 

Devon Wildlife Trust has a licence from the government to monitor the River Otter beavers and the impacts of their activity - and to introduce more beavers to the catchment - until 2020.

But the River Otter Beaver Trial receives no government funding. We rely on donations from individuals who support the return of the beaver to our countryside. And if the Trial cannot be funded, there is a risk the beavers would be removed.

Thanks to the support of people like you there are 27 beavers thriving on the River Otter and its tributaries, in six family groups. With more than two years of England's first beaver re-introduction project to fund, pledge your support with a donation or by 'Adopting' a beaver - and you'll be playing a role in the century's most exciting conservation project.

Find out how you can support the beavers here

Beaver and kits footage!

Sylvia Meller captured some wonderful footage of the mother beaver and her 3 kits.


Beaver family pics from 2017 - four beaver kits seen on the River Otter 

Beaver kits on the River Otter







After giving birth to five kits in 2016 this female decided to take things easy in 2017 by just having four! The family was seen regularly over the summer by hundreds of eager beaver watchers near the village of Otterton. David White and Devon Wildlife Trust's Mike Symes took these family photos. 

Two new beavers released into River Otter

On Monday 23 May we released 2 new adult beavers into the river's catchment in order to widen the genetic make-up of the resident population.

You can watch the story of this historic event unfold and hear about why the new beavers are so important to this groundbreaking project... 

About the River Otter beavers

A population of beavers, of unknown origin, has been present on the River Otter since at least 2010. However, when video evidence emerged proving that the beavers had given birth to kits (young), the UK Government initially planned to have them removed from the river.

DWT opposed their removal and after consulting with the local community, landowners and public bodies, presented an alternative plan: to turn the situation into a five-year trial to monitor the beavers’ effects on the landscape.

Beaver kit swimming in river by Nick UptonAn alternative plan

Our proposal was approved by Natural England in January 2015 on condition that the beavers were tested for non-native diseases and DNA-tested to ensure they were the once-native Eurasian beaver.

Following these test results, the beavers were re-released on the River Otter in March. In June 2015, video evidence showed three further kits had been born.

Read the first annual River Otter Beaver Trial update here

About the River Otter Beaver Trial

Bottles showing water quality improvements resulting from beaversThe five year trial will monitor the beavers’ effects on:

  • Landscape
  • Wildlife
  • Water levels
  • Water quality
  • Local communities and infrastructure
  • Local farm businesses

DWT plans to release further beavers into the river to ensure genetic diversity in the breeding population. 

Read the River Otter Beaver Trial Monitoring Plan here

Read the River Otter Beaver Trial Management Strategy here


Devon Wildlife Trust - Beavers from seenit on Vimeo.


Beavers need your support!

You can become part of the amazing story of England's first population of wild beavers for hundreds of years.Support the beaver project


About the River Otter Beaver Trial

The River Otter Beaver Trial is led by Devon Wildlife Trust working in partnership with The University of Exeter, the Derek Gow Consultancy, and Clinton Devon Estates. Expert independent advice is also provided by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Professor John Gurnell, and Gerhard Schwab, an international beaver expert based in Bavaria.

The River Otter Beaver Trial is supported by The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust, The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, Garfield Weston Foundation, Tale Valley Trust and donations from local residents, DWT members and the general public.

Beaver updates

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