Beavers have built a dam on Exmoor for the first time in more than 400 years.
The rodents were released into the wild in Somerset in January this year as part of a National Trust project to restore streams and reduce flooding.
Beavers became extinct in the UK in the 16th Century due to hunting, but have been successfully reintroduced at a handful of sites in recent years.
The trust said the dam “might look modest, but [it] is incredibly special” and had “created an instant wetland”.
Wildlife camera footage shows the beavers gnawing trees and collecting vegetation to build the dam at the Holnicote Estate near Minehead.
Their construction can allow for deep pools of water which offer animals shelter from predators and a place to store food.
They can also work as natural flood-defences, helping to reduce the risk of homes flooding downstream.
National Trust project manager Ben Eardley said: “It might look modest, but this beaver dam is incredibly special – it’s the first to appear on Exmoor for almost half a millennium and marks a step change in how we manage the landscape.
“What’s amazing is that it’s only been here a few weeks but has created an instant wetland.
“We’ve already spotted kingfishers at the site, and over time, as the beavers extend their network of dams and pools, we should see increased opportunities for other wildlife, including amphibians, insects, bats and birds.”
The beavers were the first to be released into the wild by the trust in its 125-year history.
Mr Eardley added: “The recent rain we’ve had is a reminder of the significant role beavers can play in engineering the landscape.
“As we face into the effects of climate change and more frequent extreme weather events, natural interventions like this need to be part of the solution.”
Beavers were hunted to extinction in the 16th Century for their meat, furry water-resistant pelts, and a substance they secrete called castoreum, used in food, medicine and perfume, but have been reintroduced in Britain since the 2000s.
The Eurasian beavers were relocated to the Exmoor estate from wild populations on the River Tay in Scotland at the end of January, as part of the trust’s £10m Riverlands project to “bring UK rivers back to life”.
News Source: BBC News