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14/07/2017

Threat to new beaver family in the Highlands

Beaver © Peter Cairns, SCOTLAND: The Big Picture

A family of beavers found living on a river in the Beauly area are to be trapped and put into captivity following a decision by Government Ministers. Trees for Life, the charity which discovered the group, says the family should either stay where they are or be relocated locally.


Film from camera traps set by the conservation experts from the charity in mid-June clearly show the presence of a mother and at least two young kits swimming and playing with their mum. Trees for Life shared news of the discovery with Scottish Natural Heritage and made a case to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham that the family be allowed to stay.


Alan McDonnell, Conservation Projects Manager at Trees for Life, said: “It is disappointing that government is already starting the process of trapping this family without considering other options.


“Whilst we understand that the Minister wants to address the concerns of landowners in Tayside, the situation here is very different and we think it is possible to consult and negotiate with landowners in the immediate vicinity of the family and upstream to find an alternative outcome for the animals.”


Beavers have sparked controversy and concern from landowners in parts of Tayside where there is intensive arable farming. In contrast, much of the land neighbouring the newly confirmed beaver home in the Highlands is used for livestock farming.


Alan McDonnell said: “We think these beavers have been active at this site for at least five years without any local concerns being raised. Which just goes to show that in the right location, beavers and other land use interests can co-exist successfully.”


Richard Hartland, local resident, said: “Many people in the local community have no idea the beavers are there and they're having very little impact on their surroundings. Why can't they be left alone?”


Shortly after finding the family, Trees for Life wrote to the Environment Minister to ask that they be left where they are, or failing that, moved upstream into Glen Affric, above the Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin hydro dam on the basis that they would have minimal impact on land use.


Trees for Life has been preparing for the return of beavers for more than 25 years. This has involved creating suitable habitat by planting aspens and willows along loch shores and riverbanks. The charity is currently raising funds for a project to Bring Back the Beavers to the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands.