First beaver leaves Cornish Seal Sanctuary in conservation project success

Thursday, 28 April 2022

A beaver from the Cornish Seal Sanctuary has moved to his new home as the charity marks its first successful release from the Secret Creek conservation project.

Hamish, who came to the Sanctuary back in January, was just a couple of months old when he had been orphaned in the wild and found a temporary refuge in our woodlands.

He arrived with two other juvenile beavers, Scruff and Maple, as part of a collaborative conservation project with the Beaver Trust, to support the restoration of this native species through specialised pre-release captive care of youngsters, to ensure they are fit for release into enclosed projects across Britain.

Now, after spending four months growing and learning to be a wild beaver in our special nursery enclosure, Hamish has been moved to a new, larger site, which will see him paired with a new female and ready to take the next step in his journey.

Tamara Cooper, Curator of the Sanctuary, says it’s just the beginning.

“Watching Hamish move to his new home is a marker of how successful our work here at the Sanctuary has been – and we’ve only just got started.

“He’s grown into a healthy beaver, who has had as little human interaction as possible to ensure he builds those crucial instincts to live in a wild environment.

“Now, our partnership with the Beaver Trust has given us the opportunity to help him move to a new home as part of the West Dorset Wilding Initiative, one of the many projects playing a big part in restoring wild beaver populations across Britain.”

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, beaver ecologist and Restoration Manager from the Beaver Trust, has been a big part of the project at the Sanctuary, having rescued all of the beavers in our care, including our resident adults, Norbert, Barbara and Twiggy.

Following Hamish’s journey to his new home, Dr Campbell-Palmer said: “Beavers are a vital part of our wetland conservation and can bring multiple benefits to nature and human dominated landscapes.

“Part of re-living with this species again can involve the need to relocate animals away from potential conflict areas to those more suited to their needs. As social animals it is important to pair up individuals with suitable projects to ensure good animal welfare and genetic health.

“Watching Hamish settling into his new home is very special and we look forward to seeing how he gets on. ”

Wildlife conservation is at the heart of all the Sanctuary’s ethos, and, with the perfect habitat to care for beavers, it’s been an amazing opportunity to not only help restore this species, but also undertake vital research into their impact on the environment.  

Beavers are a ‘keystone’ species, which means their natural behaviour has a big impact on our landscape and wildlife. By damming waterways, they pool water, which, in turn, slows the flow in rivers and streams and helps to create new wetland to support extended wildlife - providing a home and water source for many other species, too.  

As we continue to partner with the likes of the Beaver Trust and Natural England, who provided all the necessary licensing, our Sanctuary team looks forward to seeing more success from the Secret Creek project and welcoming other juvenile beavers to our site for rehabilitation.

But this is just the beginning of the beaver story at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, and we need your help! To ensure we can continue to provide expert care to our remaining residents and rescued beavers, carry out our ecological projects and introduce an exciting visitors centre, we need the support of the public to keep this vital work going.

To donate to the project, or to find out more, click here.