Fresh approach needed after 87 beavers killed

Beaver cropped

Beaver Trust calls for landowners to view culls as a last resort.  

3rd June 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

A wildlife charity says a fresh approach is needed after 87 beavers were legally killed in Scotland last year.

Last month, a report from Scottish National Heritage (SNH) revealed the scale of the killings, which left a fifth of Scotland’s beaver population dead.

Although beavers were made a protected species in Scotland in 2019, SNH granted 45 licenses allowing lethal measures to be taken against the creatures over the year. All of the licences were in Tayside, home to one of Scotland’s two main beaver populations.

SNH claimed the cull was “not really having any detrimental impact”, but wildlife charities have called for lethal control to be seen as a last resort and urged landowners to consider relocating the animals rather than killing them.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust has called the figures “deeply concerning” and this week the Beaver Trust urged landowners to work with conservation groups to safeguard the creatures.

Director James Wallace said: “Reintroducing beavers to Scotland has brought tremendous benefits to local ecosystems. Occasionally their presence also creates negative impacts for agriculture, but culling one fifth of the population in a single season is no answer.

“Further deaths must be reduced, and Beaver Trust is calling on landowners, farmers, the government and conservation groups to work together urgently on simple, positive steps to prevent avoidable culling of this important animal in future.”

The charity’s Chris Jones, who has beavers on his farm in Cornwall, added: “While beavers’ presence in agricultural areas on floodplains can result in problems for farmers, these challenges can be successfully managed. Germany’s Bavaria is just one of many international examples of how beavers and farmers can co-exist quite successfully alongside each other.

“Beavers are hugely valuable creatures and we must recognise them as such. There is a welcome demand and enthusiasm for their presence in other parts of the UK – so surely moving them is the best option, and lethal control should be a last resort.”