Naturalist agrees coypu could be homed at Durrell Zoo

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AN environmentalist has suggested housing an elusive rodent nicknamed the ‘Beast from the East’ in Jersey Zoo.

Bob Tompkins, the JEP’s nature columnist, said he did not support the killing of the coypu if it was captured.

The animal looks like a large rat and is a non-native, invasive species believed to have washed up on Jersey’s shores from France.

The government has said the creature was likely to be euthanised if caught, as it could damage the Island’s rich wetland habitats.

In a JEP poll, 78% of respondents wanted it to be given to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust or sent back to France, rather than killed.

Portrait of coypu by the river. Close-up of large orange teeth are clearly visible on this coypu. Photography of lively nature and wildlife.. (34710982)

Mr Tompkins said he too was not in favour of euthanising the coypu and felt it could be homed at the Zoo.

‘To euthanise would be overkill,’ he said. ‘I don’t see the point – it’s not going to do any harm.

‘The sensible thing would be to find an environmental body that would take care of it for the rest of its life.’

Mr Tompkins said there would be a ‘public outcry’ ifthe coypu were to be killed.

After reported sightings last month, the animal seems to have gone to ground, and environmentalists have discussed with the government the possibility of installing 30 camera traps at £150 each.

Mr Tompkins said there had been no progress on setting the traps, but there was to be a meeting today to discuss putting a series of them along the north coast, where the animal was last seen.

‘It has disappeared,’ he said. ‘There have been no further sightings. It could have died, or it could be somewhere in an isolated spot.’

Durrell were approached but said they had no comment to make.

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