A public consultation on plans to release wild beavers on the Isle of Wight is underway.
Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK approximately four hundred years ago; now the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) is hoping to reintroduce the mammals, initially on the Island, next year.
Island residents are being asked for their views with a questionnaire, which is being sent to every home.
A feasibility study carried out by the Wildlife Trust, with support from Exeter University, found that the Eastern Yar river has suitable habitat to support a beaver population.
Izzie Tween is the Trust’s newly-appointed beaver recovery project officer. She said: “The Isle of Wight is an incredible place for wildlife. But nature is still declining here and faces threats from climate change, development, pollution and loss of wildlife and wild places.
“We want to make the Island better for wildlife and we need the public’s support to help put nature in recovery.”
Conservation efforts have meant that beaver populations can now be seen thriving in Scotland, Devon, Kent, Somerset, Wiltshire and Herefordshire.
The Wildlife Trust is encouraging all Island residents to respond to the questionnaire. The information gathered will be used to identify attitudes towards beaver introduction, opportunities and challenges that beavers can offer, and what can be done to promote tolerance and enable beavers to co-exist with humans and other wildlife, should a licence application be successful.
Results of the consultation will be made public, although individual responses will be anonymised. The questionnaire can also be found online at hiwwt.typeform.com/beaver-online.