British beaver family face captivity threat

A family of wild beavers discovered in the Scottish Highlands are to be trapped and moved to captivity - in spite of conservation charity’s plea for them to remain in the wild.

14th July 2017
Eurasian beaver

A family of beavers living on a river in the Beauly area in the Scottish Highlands is to be placed in captivity, following a decision by Scottish Government ministers after landowners raised concerns the group had caused damage to crops. 

However, the charity that discovered the beavers, Trees for Life, believe the group should either remain where they are or be relocated elsewhere in the wild.

Landowners in east Scotland's Tayside area raised concern over the local beaver population, suggesting that the semiaquatic rodents damn drainage channels and damage flood banks, leading to the inundation of crops.

Trees for Life suggest that much of the land surrounding the newly discovered beavers in the Beauly area is used for livestock farming.

Eurasian beavers, native to Britain, were hunted to extinction in the 16th century for their fur ©Getty 
Eurasian beavers, native to Britain, were hunted to extinction in the 16th century for their fur ©Getty 

The wildlife charity say they support the reintroduction of beavers to native Caledonian forest, and made a case to the Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham that the family be allowed to remain where they are. 

“It is disappointing that government is already starting the process of trapping this family without considering other options,” says Alan McDonnell, conservation projects manager at Trees for Life.

“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.”

“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.”

Beaver, Scotland Peter Cairns
Beavers are Europe’s largest native rodent ©Peter Cairns

“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?” suggests local resident Richard Hartland.

Trees for Life is a charity working to restore the native Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife to the spectacular Highlands of Scotland.

Visit The Wildlife Trusts for more information about the reintroduction of beavers in the UK.

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