We can now officially confirm the presence of a healthy 2-3 year old male European Beaver on the Loch of the Lowes reserve- the first in over 400 years. We know that many people are already aware of our beaver- His sudden dramatic appearance last August in front of the hides in the middle of the day certainly made sure of that. But since then we have not been able to answer some of your questions such as:
How old is the beaver? Is it male or female? Is it a European Beaver or a North American beaver?
The fact that we can now begin to answer these questions is down to a concerted monitoring and humane live trapping effort undertaken by staff and volunteers here at Loch of the Lowes on behalf of the Tayside Beaver Study Group and Scottish Natural Heritage.
This culminated, on the 11/03/2013, in the successful trapping of the beaver so that he could be taken to Edinburgh Zoo for a proper health check and DNA testing. After months of camera surveillance, canoe surveys looking for feeding signs and a gradual habituation of our beaver to his live trap (lots of carrots and apples were required) we finally achieved the conditions where it all came together.
A time-line may help to give you an idea of some of the firsts the beaver has given us during his time at Loch of the Lowes:
- August 2012: The 1st recorded sighting of a beaver on the Loch .
- September 2012: The 1st canoe survey is undertaken and the 1st felling signs are found. between the hides. The beaver is recorded for the 1st time on the inlet camera swimming between the lochs.
- October 2012: The 1st shore walking survey finds signs of felling and feeding, inland as well as the shore-line.
- November 2012: The beaver is caught again on the inlet camera ferrying some large sticks.
- December 2012: The Ranger team discover a beaver lodge and dam in the area.
- January 2013: Scottish Wildlife Truststaff and volunteers agree to help the Tayside Beaver Study Group and Scottish Natural Heritage confirm and study the presence of the Beaver on the reserve with an aim to humanely trap the Beaver to test for diseases and genetic analysis, and then re-release.
- February 2013: The trap is placed nearby the Lodge. With the doors removed the trap is permanently open and baited (with lots of carrots and apples) so the beaver is comfortable with the structure. As part of the monitoring, camera traps are set up by the lodge. The beaver quickly overcomes his trap shyness and is caught many times on camera investigating the trap, dozing in the trap and happily eating the bait of fruit and vegetables.
- March 11th 2013: The beaver is caught in the trap after as part of a co-ordinated effort to trap beavers known to be in the area several sites in Perthshire and Angus simultaneously over several days. The RZSS vet in Edinburgh and SNH staff are on stand-by to transport the beaver as speedily as possible to Edinburgh Zoo for a vet check and testing. When thebeaver was rereleased on the reserve later on the same day he ambled happily down to the water’s edge and swims away towards his lodge.
We intend, of course, to continue monitoring the beaver at Loch of the Lowes and his behaviour, as well as any impact he has on the reserves ecology. He is a charming animal who has provided us with some very funny moments on camera. So far there are no confirmed sightings of a second animal here , but it is possible that our male may attract a mate- we will be continuing to monitor him to follow the story.
If you would like to try your hand at Beaver watching, our double story loch side hide is the ideal place to have a go– the beaver has been regularly very active in the bay in front of the hide, as the many telltale signs on the trees attest. The best times are at dusk and dawn, so luckily the hide is open 24hrs a day, and is staffed at all hours during the Osprey season. Please do not try to approach the beaver or search for its lodgings, which may disturb it and other reserve wildlife at this crucial breeding time. For more information, please see our display in the Crannog hide or ask one of our staff.