Farmers in England to be allowed to use ‘lethal force’ on beavers

Farmers in England will be allowed to shoot beavers if they threaten their crops, the government has revealed.

Conservationists have opposed the move, saying the animals are an “ally to farmers”, helping conserve water in times of drought, and are an endangered species that should be treasured.

The rodents became extinct in the UK 400 years ago after they were hunted for their pelts, but in recent years they have been reintroduced to England and Scotland.

in Devon in 2013, the government allowed them to stay to test their impact on fish stocks and local landowners.

A study in 2019 found the beavers had enhanced biodiversity in the area and increased fish stocks.

Since then, the wheels have been set in motion for beavers to be recognized as native English species and so be protected from harm.

However, until now it was unknown whether farmers and landowners would be allowed to kill, rather than simply remove, beavers that may chop down trees or flood farmland.

Some farmers have criticized plans to enshrine protections for beavers without consultation on their control.

Farmer Derek Gow, who breeds beavers for reintroduction projects at his farm in Devon, said he disagreed with the new guidance.