Legal win offers hope of new era for beavers and farmers - Trees for Life

Beaver ©
Beaver ©

Licensed beaver killings must halt and all previous beaver killings authorised by NatureScot have been unlawful, judge rules

Trees for Life’s successful court challenge to the Scottish Government’s beaver killing policy offers hope for a new era that benefits nature, climate action and farmers, says the rewilding charity.

As Scotland prepares to host the UN’s COP26 climate summit in 10 days time, today’s ruling by Lady Carmichael confirms that all previous licensed killings of beavers authorised by the Scottish Government’s nature agency NatureScot have been unlawful and have been revoked, and that all official beaver culling must halt until NatureScot has rebuilt its approach.

The ruling confirms that from now on NatureScot must set out openly and fully the reasons why it believes any future licence to kill beavers should be granted.

“With Scotland hosting what could be the most important summit on climate breakdown in our lifetimes, this result offers a better future for Scotland’s beavers. The Scottish Government must take this ruling seriously, and it means that from here on in there can be no more rubber-stamping of licensed killing of beavers,” said Alan McDonnell, Trees for Life Conservation Manager. “This is an important victory for accountability and transparency, which will benefit everyone including conservationists and farmers.”

Lady Carmichael’s ruling applies to all European protected species in the UK, and so has wide-ranging implications for wildlife.

Now that beavers cannot be killed under license without a full explanation of the reasons, NatureScot needs to rethink its approach to beaver management. Trees for Life says the killing of beavers should only ever a last resort, and is calling for beavers to be relocated to areas of Scotland where they have been missing for centuries, instead of being shot.

“By moving rather than shooting beavers, we can help them get to work boosting biodiversity, tackling climate breakdown and creating wildlife tourism opportunities,’ said Alan McDonnell. “The Scottish Government has been blocking relocation of beavers to areas of Scotland where they belong but are missing, but today’s ruling creates hope that this will change so that farmers will no longer be put in a position where they have no choice but to shoot much-loved animals.”

Beavers create wetlands that benefit other wildlife, soak up carbon dioxide, purify water and reduce flooding, but the animals sometimes need managing if they cause damage to farmland.

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Posted On: 21/10/2021

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