First Time in Centuries, European Beavers Spotted in Devon River [Watch Video]

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By Jenille Cristy Maido | March 1, 2014 2:48 AM EST

For the first time in centuries, a family of wild beavers are spotted in England. The sighting is believed to be the first in 500 years where a trio of European beavers have even been filmed cavorting on the River Otter in the east Devon.

Experts said that the sighting of these extinct animals in the wild is highly significant since it suggests that beavers can breed outside captivity. In a footage taken by BBC, it shows that the beavers are well and playing together.

Tom Buckley, retired local environmental scientist, along with the landowner David Lawrence, installed motion sensor cameras along the river to verify the existence of the animals. Where the beavers came from is unknown to Lawrence, but he is seemed relaxed about having them in his property.

"We might have to go in one day and clear some of the felled trees so they won't be a nuisance downstream in Tipton if it floods. But it's all very interesting - my wife has just started a holiday business with a safari tent and this will give people something extra to look at," said Lawrence in a report by Western Morning News.

Beavers are believed to be wiped out in Britain hundreds of years ago due to the rampant hunting for their fur and castoreum. They are nocturnal and thrives on eating trees' inner bark, aquatic plants, shrubs, and grass.

Derek Gow, a beaver expert confirmed that the animals filmed by Lawrence and Buckley are juvenile, and they are living in the wild for years. He said that witnessing the beavers left him in amazement and made him speechless realising what was happening, according to the Guardian.

Devon Wildlife Trust is working with its own Beaver Project since 2011 to protect the species in captivity. However, reports say that the beavers found in the River Otter are likely not strays from the wildlife compound. Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) spokeswoman said that it is illegal to release beavers in England, and they are investigating the case to decide on the actions to take.

Experts said that the existence of beavers in the wild should be planned accordingly, and the animal's impact on the environment should be taken with a closer look as well.

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