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Woody and Twiggy, a pair of two-year-old Eurasian beavers, have left their home in a fenced enclosure on Mapperton Estate in West Dorset and are currently enjoying an extended excursion along the banks of the Mangerton river.

The beavers were released into the enclosure last year under licence from Natural England as part of the Mapperton Wildlands rewilding project.  However recent storms and exceptionally wet weather have caused damage to the fencing and it is believed that this has facilitated their escape.

Staff from Mapperton Estate, with advice and support from Dorset Wildlife Trust (who are studying beavers on a separate side), are working to locate and trap Woody and Twiggy so that they can be returned home safely.  

There are already numerous wild populations across south-west England, including on the River Otter in Devon and the River Frome in Somerset. The government is also working on a licence procedure to enable further fence-free releases in the future. 

Beavers are native to the UK and were commonplace in Dorset until they were hunted to extinction in the 1600s.  They are known as a keystone species because of their important contribution to ecosystems through dam building and the creation of wetlands.  The dams can also help mitigate flooding during storm events and improve water quality through sediment trapping. 

Eurasian beavers are now a protected species in England and it is against the law to harm them intentionally or destroy their homes.

Mapperton Estate would be grateful if members of the local community could report any sightings of Woody or Twiggy on the Mangerton river by emailing

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