Call to manage beaver numbers
A new report issued by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has revealed that beaver numbers have almost trebled in one of the Scotland’s prime agricultural areas.
But headlines that farmers were calling for a cull of beavers in the Tayside region were yesterday branded sensationalist – and NFU Scotland said that it was working closely with SNH to find a way forward – adding that all practical mitigation measures should be tested to allow beavers and farmers to coexist.
The study estimated that around 430 beavers now lived in over 100 active beaver territories across Tayside – while 2012 figures put beaver numbers across the region at about 150 in 40 territories.
Jonnie Hall, director of policy for NFU Scotland, said the report confirmed what farmers had feared since the animals had been released illegally in the area some years ago.
But he added that the issue was not only about numbers – but about the impact which the animals were having on very productive agricultural land:
“Those impacts from beavers have to be managed, and we are working closely with SNH to find constructive ways forward.”
Hall said that what might be seen to be a conservation success story had to be set against “real and significant” agricultural damage in some areas.
“Ultimately we need effective management protocols in place and that means testing all practical mitigation measures and making sure that they work effectively to enable beavers to coexist within the farmed landscape, rather than have beavers impose on farmers what they can and can’t do.”
Nick Halfhide, SNH’S director of sustainable growth admitted that in some parts of Scotland, beavers could cause problems, particularly in areas with prime agricultural land:
“So we are setting up a mitigation scheme…to develop and trial techniques to help farmers deal with any problems they encounter.”
It is estimated there are now 430 beavers living in 100 territories across Tayside