BEAVERS introduced to the Forest of Dean as part of a rewilding scheme have produced two babies - the first kits born there.
Forestry England has revealed the two new additions at its Wye Valley enclosure near Upper Lydbrook and released CCTV images of them.
A spokesperson said: “The baby kits were born in April and appear to be healthy and happy.
“Kits stay in their underground lodge for 1-2 months after being born, and so our team had to wait patiently to see if a new family would emerge this summer.
“These are the first kits to be born in the Forest of Dean as part of the Greathough Brook project, and follows the introduction of a new female by the Beaver Trust last October.
“The female was introduced following the sad passing of the previous female last summer.
“Since their first meeting, she and our male have been busy working together, making new dams, maintaining the existing ones, improving their lodge, felling trees and grooming each other.”
Greathough Brook flows into the River Wye near Lower Lydbrook, and the beavers were released there to build dams and create ponds to slow the flow of water down the steep wooded valley during heavy rainfall.
Kate Wollen, Assistant Ecologist for Forestry England, said of the new additions: “We are delighted with this news. July will mark five years since the Greathough Brook beaver project began, and what better way to celebrate than with the birth of two baby kits.
“We are also celebrating as this year we have been given a five-year licence to continue the project.
“We will be monitoring to ensure the beavers and their new kits remain healthy, and we are excited to see the increased, positive environmental impact that the larger family will have.”
Beavers tend to pair for life and have one litter a year, typically of one to four kits.
The species was hunted to extinction in the UK some 500 years ago for their meat, fur and oil, but has been reintroduced in small numbers in such places as the Forest, Devon, Cornwall and Scotland.
The Forest project, launched by then Environment Minister Michael Gove, was temporarily halted in February 2019, when a pair of German beavers relocated to the six-hectare Greathough Brook enclosure six months earlier had to be removed due to disease fears.
But they were replaced by a new pair later in the year – a male and a female – this time from the River Tay area in Scotland.
The Wyedean area has also recently seen the successful reintroduction of the pine marten, which had last been seen in the area in the 1860s.
Find out more about the Wyedean beavers at www.forestryengland.uk/the-forest-dean/beavers-greathough-brook