John Eardley's reply to Ruth Jenkins

Strategy Officer
John Eardley
Ty Newydd
4, Little Moss Lane
Scholar Green

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5th February 2021
Ruth Jenkins – Head of Natural Resource Management Policy, Natural Resources Wales
By email to

Dear Ruth,
Thank you for your letter Ref: CX21-007 (RJ) dated 26th January regarding the Prof. Ian G. Cowx report on the “Review of Evidence of Interactions between Beavers and Fish and Fisheries in England and Wales” and its relevance to:
 Application for the release of up to 6 beavers to be held in an enclosure at Cors Dyfi
Nature reserve (S086266)
 Application for a 5-year pilot to release beavers into the wild on the Dyfi (S087504).

Angling stakeholders continue to have grave concerns about the initial application (S086266) to release beavers into the enclosure at Cors Dyfi. Whilst you are correct to point bout that there is unlikely to be any impact on fish migration within the reserve itself, the problems will occur when, not if, some of the beavers escape and move elsewhere within the catchment. The very nature of the immediate surrounding area, “reed beds, bog and wet woodland scrub”, makes recapture nigh on impossible no matter how impressive the “updated and standalone escape, recapture and fence maintenance plan” may appear on paper. Furthermore this environment is subject to extreme conditions when low pressure
storm surges, spring tides and high rivers levels coincide to provide the perfect conditions to pile dead reed stems and other flood debris against the enclosure and in the process create a ready-made escape ramp. The most recent floods would have provided the perfect conditions for most of the beavers in the enclosure to escape. On that basis alone it is hard to regard
escape from the enclosure as an “unlikely event”. We also find it difficult to understand why “NRW are lawfully required to issue the licence” and cannot simply refuse at this stage, particularly when 35 farmers and landowners in the Dyfi Valley have signed a petition stating quite categorically that they do not want beavers on their property. There is no shortage of evidence from both Scotland and Europe that beaver dams block drainage ditches resulting in flooded fields as well as crops being
targeted as a food supply and farmers are right to be concerned. It is highly likely that compensation would be sought from those responsible for permitting the introduction of beavers in the first place.
What also concerns us is that the beavers destined for the enclosure are the offspring of illegal introductions into the River Tay system, so called “beaver bombing”. That in itself seems to send a clear message to those intent on further illegal introductions that they are unlikely to be held to account for breaking the law, something that is all the more ironic to
law abiding anglers who have witnessed third party stocking of salmonids outlawed in Wales on the spurious grounds of genetic integrity.
The application for a 5-year pilot to release beavers into the wild on the Dyfi (S087504) is presumably to facilitate the release of beavers born within the Cors Dyfi compound into the main river system, in which case the compound could be perceived as little more than a beaver hatchery. It also seems strange that there is any need for a pilot study when NRW is fully aware of the beaver activity on the tidal Dyfi downstream of Machynlleth,
even to the extent of installing a surveillance camera in the area. Could you please let us know what NRW has learned so far from its monitoring of the beavers at this location and how this might influence future decisions?
Angling stakeholders have very real concerns about the long term impact of beavers on the salmonid population of the Afon Dyfi and sadly, yet again, find themselves on the wrong end of the NRW decision making process.

Yours sincerely
John Eardley – Strategy Officer, Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries

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