"Depending on the source of the animals, they could be carrying a disease not currently present in the UK," said a DEFRA spokesperson. "In addition, beavers have not been an established part of our wildlife for the last 500 years. Our landscape and habitats have changed since then and we need to assess the impact they could have."
The decision has sparked a heated debate among locals who fear that the animals could pose a problem by damming the riverway, and proponents of beaver reintroduction, like Derek Gow, who believe that the animals have a rightful place in their native habitat.
"Why should three beavers be three beavers too many?" he asked the Western Morning News.
"This will be the first time in history that we have exterminated a native mammal twice, setting an extraordinary historical precedent."