Perthshire Advertiser

Beavers settle into a dam fine home

No urban myth...mammals are thriving in Fair City

- ROBBIE CHALMERS

Perth has become the first city in the UK to have resident urban beavers, according to the most comprehens­ive ever survey of the mammal in Scotland.

The findings show the semiaquati­c species has establishe­d a “strong presence” on the River Tay - including in the centre of the city.

Signs of fresh activity were also seen on Moncreiffe Island and along the river at the North Inch.

In spite of the cold and snowy conditions, surveyors have completed over 100 field survey days so far with thousands of confirmed field signs left by beavers, walking along water courses and canoeing the larger rivers.

Conducted by Exeter University for government agency NatureScot, the survey started on October 1 and, when completed, the results will be analysed, with up-todate mapping and current estimates of the number of active territorie­s available this summer.

It has also been set up to assess the health and spread of the overall population, after beavers became extinct in Scotland several hundred years ago.

The survey work in Tayside and surroundin­g areas is part of a large programme being completed in the autumn and winter, when there are fewer leaves on trees and beaver signs are easier to spot.

High water levels in larger rivers has meant the surveyors have had to selectivel­y survey smaller watercours­e and lochs, and then larger rivers when conditions are suitable, rather than working across the country systematic­ally.

Around the world beavers, a European Protected Species since May 2019, have establishe­d territorie­s in many urban areas with suitable habitat, including a number of cities across Europe such as Bratislava, Trondhiem, Berne, Munich and Vienna, so the behaviour is “not unusual”.

NatureScot’s Tayside and Grampian area manager Denise Reed said: “Perth already has an abundance of wildlife on its doorstep and we’re excited to hear about the beavers there.

“It can lay claim to being the first city in the UK to have its own resident beaver families.”

Survey work is continuing with key areas still to be surveyed including parts of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, River Forth and River Teith, part of the lower River Tay, South Esk, and some minor burn and ditch systems within Tayside.

Professor Richard Brazier, project lead from Exeter

University, said: “The survey work is important because it enables us to understand, with an objective approach, how beaver territorie­s have changed, where beavers are living and what impacts, both positive and negative, beavers are having on our ecosystems.

“When we compare the results with those of the previous survey that we ran three years ago, we are also able to look at the impact of beaver management on beaver numbers and territorie­s, to learn lessons and improve our approaches to beaver management in the future.”

The public can contribute to the survey by reporting sightings of beavers and their field signs using the Mammal Society’s Mammal Mapper app, or by going online to www.brc.ac.uk/ mammals/recording.php

 ??  ?? Here fur good Perth now has many resident urban beavers
Here fur good Perth now has many resident urban beavers

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