Species set to receive protection, but will require careful management.The Scottish Government is minded to allow beavers to remain in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.
Ms Cunningham has said the species will have to be actively managed, in line with practices in other European countries.
Work has now begun to ensure beavers can be added to Scotland’s list of protected species as soon as possible. It will be the first time a mammal has been officially reintroduced to the UK.
Scottish Ministers have agreed that:
- Beaver populations in Argyll and Tayside can remain
- The species will receive legal protection, in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive
- Beavers will be allowed to expand their range naturally
- Beavers should be actively managed to minimise adverse impacts on farmers and other land owners
- It will remain an offence for beavers to be released without a licence, punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine
“I have been determined to find a pragmatic approach, which balances the biodiversity benefits of reintroducing beavers with the obvious need to limit difficulties for our farmers.
“I want to put on record my appreciation of the efforts of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, NFU Scotland, the Royal Scottish Zoological Society, and Scottish Land and Estates who have worked in partnership to set out a way forward.
“Beavers promote biodiversity by creating new ponds and wetlands, which in turn provide valuable habitats for a wide range of other species.
“We want to realise these biodiversity benefits while limiting adverse impacts on farmers and other land users. This will require careful management.
Management techniques to prevent beaver damage, such as controlling flow through dams, or protecting valuable trees can be carried out without a licence.
More intensive management techniques, up to and including lethal control, are permitted under the Habitats Regulations for specified purposes and subject to there being no other satisfactory solution, and no adverse effect on the conservation status of the species.
The Scottish Government will provide advice and assistance to farmers in understanding their options and helping them implement mitigation and prevention measures.
The truth is, that if I had sat down and written a wish list of things the Scottish government would decide in determining the fate of the beavers, that is about pretty darn close to what I would have written. Beavers get protected status, check. Both the fancy official trial beavers in Argyll and the scrappy free beavers on the river Tay, check. People can use Mike Callahan’s training to install flow devices without a license, check. And farmers will receive education and assistance to manage problem beavers, check. If lethal means are needed they need to get approval √√√√!
Pinch me I’m dreaming!
Ohhh and guess what else? The beaver as been afforded ‘Native Status’ in the country, which it apparently lost after being absent for 5oo years. To which I’m pretty sure a beaver wold reply,
“Mighty white of you, indeed” Ahem.
The good news was blasted on the BBC and Guardian yesterday, and I’m sure several whiny farmers had very unhappy afternoons. But our good friends Paul and Louise Ramsay were thrilled, and their beaver group facebook page rang with congratulations far into the night. Paul ran a photo of a special shirt they’re taking orders for, and you might want one I think.
I, of course, had to mark the occasion with my own beaver braveheart FREEDOM speech, which I’m sure is more amusing to Americans than to Scots.
Honestly, this website has been so attentive to the beaver dilemma in Scotland for so long this victory feels personal. All the way back since the days when we were thrilled about the Argyll beaver trial to the sad day when they decided they were going to catch all the ‘free beavers and put them in zoos’ to the woeful death of Eric in the Edinbur0 zoo, to the great news they were going to stop trapping while they made their decision, to the story of the first secret beaver conference abroad! I got my only strike on youtube for sharing a fantastic video that ran on Nature Nuts there, and made friends with so many of the heroes in this fight. Including professor Lavelle who wrote me yesterday over the moon with the good news!
I can’t believe all the campaigning, letters to MPs and MSPs has finally paid off! Who knew politicians sometimes listen? I am so excited I will not sleep for the next week. This is the best political news of the year. Well, it would be the best news of any year, but given the disasterous year we’ve had this is even more welcome.
Forward brave beavers of Scotland!
Dr. J. Suilin Lavelle.
University of Edinburgh.
It was our second beaver festival when the children’s parade placed the clay beavers they had made on the map of Scotland, which I had signed by the minister I met when he visited the John Muir site. It’s touching to see this now and remember how far we’ve all come.