The Daily Telegraph
Make beavers a ‘native species’ to protect them from the killing season, urges charity
BEAVERS should be given legal status as a native species, the Government has been urged ahead of the start of the Scottish killing season.
The Beaver Trust, a charity, has, in partnership with a range of other groups, drawn up a series of proposals on the future of the “sometimes troublesome” dam-building creatures.
They have made a comeback after the success of a trial in Devon, which concluded earlier this month, and the group led by the trust has urged the Government to officially recognise the animals as a native species.
The call comes ahead of what the Scottish Rewilding Alliance has dubbed the “killing season” as farmers in Scotland are now able to apply for a licence to shoot unwanted beavers.
The coalition of 24 groups warned that the country’s “fragile population” of beavers could be at risk after 87 were killed last year, around a fifth of the population. Beavers are protected in Scotland but cannot be relocated outside their official river catchments meaning farmers have little choice but to apply for a licence.
James Wallace, of the Beaver Trust, said: “It is critical for people with different views to collaborate on how to coexist with this remarkable, if sometimes troublesome, species. To many, these ecosystem engineers could help us tackle issues across river catchments like water security, floods, pollution and loss of wildlife.”
He said that beavers could bring benefits to the environment. For example, the dams which they create can provide habitats for other wildlife and reduce the effects of flooding. But others, such as farmers and anglers, have raised concerns about damage to farmland and effects on fishing.
The new proposals include the call for beavers already living wild on rivers to be allowed to remain and expand their range naturally, backed by local management and monitoring.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said it will consult on the management of beavers in the wild in England and a national approach for any further releases.