Beavers caught on cam­era get­ting friendly in the wild

Night vi­sion footage shows Alba and Harris loved up in Ar­gyll

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY RITA CAMP­BELL

The first footage of a pair of cap­tive-bred beavers get­ting friendly in the wild has been re­leased.

Video footage has re­vealed the pair af­fec­tion­ately groom­ing each other in Knap­dale For­est, Ar­gyll.

They are part of the Scot­tish Beaver Trial, a project to bring the species back to Scot­land 400 years af­ter it was wiped out here.

Night vi­sion cam­eras show Harris, a male born at the Wild­wood Trust in Kent, and Alba, a fe­male from RZSS (Royal Zoo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Scot­land) High­land Wildlife Park, look­ing loved up af­ter a few months of liv­ing on the same small lochan in Ar­gyll.

Scot­tish Beavers, a part­ner­ship set up be­tween the RZSS and the Scot­tish Wildlife Trust to con­tinue the work of the Scot­tish Beaver Trial, is fo­cused on re­in­forc­ing the beaver pop­u­la­tion in Knap­dale with sup­port from play­ers of the Peo­ple’s Post­code Lot­tery.

Ben Har­rower, RZSS con­ser­va­tion pro­gramme man­ager, said: “It’s fan­tas­tic to see Alba and Harris get­ting along so well and I have high hopes that they will breed and pro­duce beaver kits in the fu­ture.

“Alba es­tab­lished her­self on the lochan af­ter be­ing re­leased in Oc­to­ber and, af­ter a health and ge­netic screen­ing, Harris was deemed to be a po­ten­tial suitor. We re­leased him in the same lo­ca­tion in March and waited to see if they would pair up.

“Post-re­lease mon­i­tor­ing footage showed both beavers do­ing well, but for months they were not seen to­gether.

“It was only in late June, when Scot­tish Beavers con­trac­tors from the Heart of Ar­gyll Wildlife As­so­ci­a­tion were go­ing through im­agery from the lochan, that a video clip was found with them side-by-side and groom­ing each other, a great sign that Alba has ac­cepted Harris as a mate.”

He added: “Beavers were ab­sent from the wild in Scot­land for over 400 years and the Scot­tish Beaver Trial was the first of­fi­cial rein­tro­duc­tion of a mam­mal to the UK. Alba and Harris are just two of up to 28 beavers we are re­leas­ing in Knap­dale over three years to help re­in­force the pop­u­la­tion.”

Su­san Davies, di­rec­tor of con­ser­va­tion at the Scot­tish Wildlife Trust, said: “The suc­cess­ful pair­ing of these two beavers is a fan­tas­tic early out­come for the project.

“As na­ture’s en­gi­neers, beavers can bring huge ben­e­fits to an area, from flood preven­tion and im­proved wa­ter qual­ity to sup­port­ing the lo­cal econ­omy through in­creased tourism.”

“Last year, to­wards the end of the sum­mer, there were re­ports of seals up­stream around the El­lon area.

“We will be do­ing very reg­u­lar checks up­river our­selves but we are also ask­ing if any­one does see any seals up­stream around El­lon to get in touch with the Face­book page so we can check on them in case they are hav­ing prob­lems.

“This is some­thing any­one can do and they don’t have to be a vol­un­teer with us.

“Lots of peo­ple spend time around the Ythan for dif­fer­ent rea­sons so we are ask­ing ev­ery­one to look out for the seals they see up­river and to let us know if they do.

“We are look­ing to make sure that not only the an­i­mals are safe, but any­one who comes into con­tact with them.

“If I was fish­ing in the Ythan up­stream and a seal came up to me, I would be wor­ried about the harm it could do to me.”

In April, the group blasted those fly­ing drones over the seal colony.

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