Beavers in Scotland are establishing a strong presence in Perth, according to researchers conducting the most comprehensive ever survey of the animal in Scotland.
The NatureScot survey, being conducted by Exeter University, will gather detailed, up-to-date information on the location and number of active beaver territories, as well as assess the health and spread of the overall population, after beavers became extinct several hundred years ago.
The survey has already found plenty of evidence of beaver activity on the River Tay, including right in the centre of the City of Perth, providing a wonderful wildlife watching experience for Perth residents.
While there has been a beaver territory on the Tay at Perth since at least 2017, the surveyors found even more evidence this year. In particular, they identified a number of fresh field signs on Moncreiffe Island in the River Tay. Along the river at the North Inch, there are also obvious signs of beaver presence, highlighting their amazing ability to gnaw and fell some sizeable riverside trees.
Perth is the first city in UK to have resident urban beavers. Around the world, beavers have established territories in many urban areas with suitable habitat, including a number of cities across Europe such as Bratislava, Trondhiem, Berne, Munich and Vienna, so this behaviour is not unusual.
The survey work in Tayside and surrounding areas is part of a large programme being completed in the autumn and winter when there are fewer leaves on trees and beaver signs are easier to spot. In spite of the cold and snowy conditions, surveyors have completed over 100 field survey days so far with thousands of confirmed field signs left by beavers, walking along water courses and canoeing the larger rivers. High water levels in larger rivers has meant the surveyors have had to selectively survey smaller watercourse and lochs, and then larger rivers when conditions are suitable, rather than working across the country systematically.