The future of Scotland’s fragile population of wild beavers is at risk as this year’s beaver killing season begins, says the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, a coalition of 24 leading environmental charities, countryside access organisations, businesses and community groups.
Scotland’s baby beavers are officially seen as no longer dependent on their mothers from 17 August – meaning farmers with unwanted beavers on their land can again apply for licences to shoot beavers. Last year, 87 beavers, a fifth of the Scottish population, were shot. There are fears the scale of the killing could be replicated this year.
The Scottish Government says beavers cannot be relocated outside of their existing river catchments, and can only spread naturally from their ranges in Knapdale in Argyll and Tayside – leaving farmers whose crops are sometimes damaged by beavers with little option but to apply for a licence to kill the animals.
The Alliance says each beaver shot is a wasted life that could have helped to rewild Scotland. Beavers build small dams – creating nature-rich wetlands that support a wealth of wildlife and soak up carbon dioxide, and which reduce flooding and improve water quality. Beavers can also benefit local communities by becoming a tourist attraction.
“Beavers are brilliant for wildlife and people, but in Scotland they’re at risk as a species because the Scottish Government allows their legal killing. Needless bloodshed could be reduced by allowing beavers to be moved to where they would be welcome,” said Steve Micklewright, the Scottish Rewilding Alliance’s Convenor and Chief Executive of rewilding charity Trees for Life.
Posted on: 17 August 2020