Discovery by wildlife watcher in Ashford described as ‘exciting and significant’ by conservation charity - Kent Wildlife Trust

Image: Ian Rickards – Beaver signs Conningbrook
Image: Ian Rickards – Beaver signs Conningbrook

An eagle-eyed wildlife watcher captured a video of a beaver on the river at Conningbrook Lakes Country Park, Ashford.

This is the first time a wild beaver has been spotted in the area, known to live on the River Stour, some of the Little Stour, and at Ham Fen nature reserve between Sandwich and Deal.

The rare sighting has sparked hopes that a beaver colony may have formed in the Ashford Country Park. A follow-up visit by Kent Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency, confirmed there is evidence of wild beavers in the area. This has been labeled a ‘significant’ and ‘exciting’ find by experts.

Kent Wildlife Trust’s Amy Fitzmaurice said: ‘This is a hugely significant and exciting discovery and the first documented case of a wild beaver in the Ashford area. It is incredibly hard to see beavers in the wild as they tend to be nocturnal, but on this occasion a wildlife watcher was able to not only see the animal, but film it too.’

‘On receipt of the footage we set up a site visit and there is clear evidence of beavers in the area with chewed sticks and branches laying around, footprints in soft mud and bark peeled from tree stumps.’

‘Kent Wildlife Trust is a member of the East Kent Beaver Advisory Group (EKBAG) and this discovery will now form part of the Kent Beaver survey, commissioned by Natural England and delivered by us and the Beaver Trust.’

Beavers are a keystone species and manage habitats in a unique way. They build dams which act as a natural filter, cleaning the water of silts and pollutants. The dams also create localised flooding in areas that are appropriate, away from urban areas, which creates a buffer which holds water and slows the flow.

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Posted On: 08/02/2023

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