Express & Star

Is it a beaver?: Internet-dividing wildlife video shot in Wolverhampton is finally debunked

Wolverhampton locals have been posting clips of what they believed to be a beaver paddling in the canal – but a debate soon stirred online as to whether it was a beaver after all.

A beaver. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The debate ensued on the Facebook group 'Friends of Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve' when locals Maria Carmella Saunders and Jackie Smith shared the clips and attracted excited members to swiftly join in the comments section.

Over 50 comments were jotted down by members of the group as they tried to end the debate, but nobody could say for sure it was a beaver - which was hunted to extinction in the UK hundreds of years ago.

A beaver. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Posting the eye-catching clip, Jackie Smith, said: "We were just walking back by Smestow Brook when we saw what we think is a beaver at 9.30pm tonight."

And this post came shortly after another clip was posted by Maria Carmela Saunders, who snapped a video of the animal between Hordern road and Newbridge.

She quickly quipped in with: "This has got to be what I saw last night. Beaver or otter how wonderful that someone else has seen it."

But the joyous video soon turned into a friendly debate after multiple locals jumped into the comments to share their two-pence on the rare sighting.

Some claimed the friendly swimmer was an otter, others a platypus, and one commenter thought it was a muskrat.

Michal Kennedy said: "It looks more like a Muskrat than a Beaver, both have similar habits and are not members of the Rattus family.

"Lots of them in France in the Marne River. They were introduced to Europe and are an invasive species.

"It seems there was a healthy imported population of Muskrats in UK during late 19th and 20th century imported for fur and meat.

"They have a large and broad tail. Huge efforts were made to euthanise the larger groups as they survived well after being introduced. It seems some isolated small groups still exist in UK."

But in a less wordy response, Roth McGann disagreed, he said: "100 per cent River otter."

Thankfully, the debate has been resolved, and it has now been confirmed by Harvey Tweats, a wildlife ranger at Trentham Estate in Stoke-on-Trent, that it is, in fact, a beaver, reports the BBC.

The rare sighting comes only a couple of months after Forestry England released a family of beavers into an enclosure in the Wyre Forest, earlier this year.

The release was done as part of their commitment to bring the species back to the nation’s forests.

Following successful re-introductions in the Forest of Dean and Yorkshire, Forestry England has teamed up with Natural England and experts at the Beaver Trust, to bring beavers to Wyre Forest.

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