Scottish beavers under pressure
S cottish conservation groups are calling for urgent legal protection to be given to the country’s rapidly expanding beaver population. This follows increased reports of unregulated culling, and the disappearance of beavers from some areas where they lived several years ago.
In autumn 2018, Scottish Natural Heritage published its most recently commissioned survey of beavers in the catchment of the River Tay. Beaver numbers have roughly trebled there since 2012, with more than 400 beavers using 144 territories. Some of these are close to the major urban areas of Stirling and Perth, with a few beavers now also in the catchment of the River Forth.
Alongside these findings, farmers’ representatives have been reporting increased impacts from beavers, such as flooding of fields. “What may be seen as a conservation success story has to be set against real and significant agricultural damage,” says Jonnie Hall, director of policy for NFU Scotland.
But the benefits of bringing beavers back “far outweigh the disbenefits,” says Susan Davies, director of conservation for the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
“The small population remains under threat from unregulated killing. We hope that the Scottish Government will now be swift in taking the final steps through Parliament to secure this much-needed protected status.”
FIND OUT MORE
Tayside beaver survey: nature.scot/snh-research-report1013-survey-tayside-area-beaverpopulation-2017-2018
Beavers died out in Scotland in the 16th century. Now reintroduced, the species has started to expand its range.