Beaver found shot dead on Scottish nature reserve

Adult beaver at knapdale - steve gardner cropped  wide

Scotland's beavers face persecution, with farming and landowning interests suspected

Graham Martin's photo

22nd February 2019 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Urgent legal protection is needed for Scotland’s beavers after one was found shot dead on a nature reserve.

The animal, one of a small reintroduced population, was found in Tayside.

Examination of the female beaver shows that it is likely to have died from an infection after being shot in the chest.

It is thought it was shot while foraging, and later died on the nature reserve.

There are estimated to be around 430 beavers in Tayside, all of which originate from an illegal re-introduction 12 years ago.

However, they have faced persecution, with farmers and landowning interests suspected.

It is estimated that up to 240 animals have been killed over the years.

Beavers are native to Scotland, but were hunted to extinction in the 16th century.

A trial successful reintroduction was carried out in Argyllshire – and in 2016, the Scottish Government announced that these animals and those illegally released in Tayside can stay, as it was recognised that beaver activity brings considerable ecological benefits – though farmers and land managers often resent their impact.

Despite their small numbers and the work they do in improving water quality, increasing biodiversity, creating wetlands and regulating flooding, they have not been designated as protected species by the Scottish Government, leaving them vulnerable to persecution.

Conservation charities have called for their status to be revised as soon as possible, calling on the Scottish Government to honour its pledge to introduce European Protected Species status for beavers, alongside a suitable management framework.

Jonny Hughes, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “We believe this animal was shot elsewhere while foraging and then died from its wounds after returning to its home territory.

“Sadly, this beaver is likely to have suffered a slow and painful death, and the loss of the resident female may mean that the complex network of dams and lodges that have developed on the reserve will be abandoned.

“Without legal protection beavers are subject to unregulated culling. There is no clear picture of how many beavers are being culled or whether this is being done humanely.

“In addition to the significant positive effects that beavers can have on the natural environment, we realise that there some localised negative impacts that need to be managed. However, lethal control should be used as an absolute last resort and must be carried out humanely.

“To ensure that beavers are allowed to spread throughout Scotland and any negative impacts are properly managed, the Scottish Government needs to begin the overdue process of giving beavers European Protected Species status as quickly as possible.”

22nd February 2019 by Chris from the U.S

The good news is that Beavers are extremely resilient and fecund. I imagine that with a reasonable amount of protection, populations will recover quickly.