Beavers have returned to the River Stour, stirring both excitement and concern amongst local residents.

Recent sightings in areas such as Kingsmead Sainsbury's (near Canterbury's new Riverside leisure complex) have been documented by photos shared on social media sights such as Reddit and Facebook.

Although many residents use the Canterbury Residents' Facebook group to share their excitement and enthusiasm at the chance to catch sight of one of the beavers, some are taking to the site to express their concerns. This is because they believe beavers pose the risk of localised flooding and damage to long-standing trees.

Although beavers known to cause floods by building dams which slow down the flow of water to create waterlogged habitats, some say they help to prevent flooding by keeping water in uplands and away from residents. Derek Gow, a famer and ecologist, describes beavers as "Nature's water manager". Their dams also help to clean water and act as carbon sinks which help to slow climate change. 

European beavers are now recognised as a protected species in England, and requires a license to possess, disturb and manage beavers and their dams, burrows and lodges.

Amidst the beaver controversy, a threat to the beavers is arising. The National Grid has plans which could possibly uproot the new beavers by overhauling a section of Minster marshes. Campaigners looking to protect Canterbury's new inhabitants are calling for a reroute of plans for the electricity line to protect this ecosystem.

If you are hoping to catch a glimpse of these infamous beavers, you are in luck as winter is the best time of year to do so! This is because the vegetation is lower and therefore there is more chance of spotting them.