March 19, 2009

Researchers want beavers back in Britain

British researchers say returning beavers to the countryside could save money and help the environment.

John Gurnell of Queen Mary College at London University describes beavers, which largely disappeared from Britain in the 1600s, as eco-system engineers that would help clean waterways and reduce major flooding, The Times of London reported Wednesday.

Landowners, however, are concerned about possible property damage and spread of disease. Beavers are known for cutting down trees to build their dams and homes, flooding surrounding low areas and clogging culverts.

The report suggests releasing three or families of beavers on a single site along river banks in the Weald of Kent, the New Forest, Bodmin Moor, the Peak District or the Forest of Bowland, the newspaper said.