Scottish beavers arrive in the UK

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The Scottish Beaver Trial is one step closer to the UK’s first native mammal reintroduction when four beaver families arrived in Heathrow last night. The beavers, originally from Norway, will now spend six months in quarantine before being released in Knapdale, mid-Argyll on a time-limited trial basis in spring 2009.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), project partners for the Scottish Beaver Trial, enlisted the help of a specialist team to assist them with the capture of the beaver families from the Telemark region of Norway in September.

For the last two months, the team has been capturing the beaver families, each consisting of one adult male, one adult female and between one to three yearlings or kits.  Tracking the beavers and ensuring they were in the correct family groups was an important part of the process.

Iain Valentine, Head of Animals, Conservation & Education for RZSS, explains:
“The capture of the beaver families was a complicated process because we wanted to ensure that existing beaver families, which included yearlings and kits, were captured together.  Luckily beavers are territorial so families can be tracked within the areas they inhabit.

The team in Norway spent long periods of time in specific sites to identify complete family groups, ensuring that none are left behind. Another added complication was that beavers are primarily active at night so the beaver families were tracked from boats patrolling the river and caught in the dark. The team in Norway did a fantastic job and all the beavers are in excellent health.

We would like to thank our partners in Norway, from the University College Telemark and in particular Frank Rosell and his team for the work that they have put in to catching the beavers for us and to the Norwegian Government for allowing the beavers to be captured and transported from their country to Scotland.”

Once released, the project partners and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) will continue to manage the project with Scottish Natural Heritage conducting scientific monitoring on the impact of the beavers.

Simon Jones, Project Manager for the Scottish Beaver Trial, said: 
“Beavers are native to Britain but were hunted to extinction over 400 years ago. Beavers hold the potential to create new wetland habitats which in turn increases the appeal to other native species.  We are excited to get the trial underway and really see what benefits beavers can bring to Scotland.”

Minister for Environment Michael Russell added:
“This is the latest stage in a truly exciting development for wildlife watchers, not just in Scotland, but around the world. I am sure the beavers are awaiting their release from quarantine and into Knapdale as keenly as I am. Once again I would commend RZSS and SWT for leading such an important project.


  • Photography and film footage availability: We have many high resolution images of excellent quality of the beaver families in Norway available for release. The images include tracking, capturing and examining the beaver families (including beaver kits).
  • There is also high resolution digital film footage available of the tracking and capture process for release.
  • Due to strict quarantine regulations, access to the beaver families for photography or filming purposes cannot be granted.

For further information or to request images or footage, please contact:

Maxine Finlay, Communications Officer, RZSS
Tel: 0131 314 0312
Nicola McGovern, PR Officer, SWT
Tel: 0131 312 4742

Notes to Editors

  1. The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and host Forestry Commission Scotland to undertake a time-limited trial reintroduction of the European beavers to Knapdale, Mid-Argyll. It is part of Scotland’s Species Action Framework, which sets out a strategic approach to species management in Scotland. The Scottish Government has asked Scottish Natural Heritage to coordinate the independent scientific monitoring of the trial, reporting on whether the conditions of the licence are being fully addressed on the ground. For more information visit
  2. The Scottish Government approved the application of the trial reintroduction in May 2007. This followed a two-month long consultation period with local residents and key stakeholders. The results of this consultation showed that 73% of respondents were in favour of the trial reintroduction.
  3. Forestry Commission Scotland manages the trial site of Knapdale Forest as part of the national forest estate. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and is responsible for the protection and expansion of Scotland’s forests and woodlands. FCS manages the national forest estate for a range of public benefits – economic, social and environmental. It works closely with a range of national and local stakeholders and partners to deliver the Scottish Government’s goals vested in the Scottish Forestry Strategy.
  4. Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park are owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), a registered charity, number SC004064. RZSS was founded by visionary lawyer Thomas Gillespie. The Society was set up ‘to promote, facilitate and encourage the study of zoology and kindred subjects and to foster and develop amongst the people an interest in and knowledge of animal life’. RZSS has been involved in several successful species reintroduction programmes in the past. These include native species, such as the Canna mouse, as well as global initiatives including reintroducing the Socorro dove back to the Socorro Islands, off the Mexican coast.
  5. The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) is a registered charity. It is the largest voluntary body working for all the wildlife of Scotland, representing more than 31,000 members who care for wildlife and the environment. SWT seeks to raise public awareness of threatened habitats and species and manages over 120 wildlife reserves Scotland-wide.
  6. Scottish Natural Heritage is the Scottish Government’s statutory advisor on the conservation, enhancement, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of the natural heritage. For further information on SNH, please visit our website at  
  7. In 1997 Biffa Waste Services agreed to donate landfill tax credits to the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) to administer under the fund name Biffaward. Grants made from the fund currently amount to £100 million, supporting many worthwhile projects. Biffa Waste Services Limited is one of the largest single suppliers of waste management services in the UK.  It collects, treats, recovers and disposes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste nationwide.  It is ultimately owned by a private equity consortium comprising Montagu Private Equity, Global Infrastructure Partners, Uberior Co-Investments Limited and other co-investors
  8. The project has received financial support from a range of sources including the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, the John Ellerman Foundation and the Albert George & Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust.

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Download media briefing information The Scottish Beaver Trial is one step closer to the UK’s first native mammal reintroduction when four beaver families arrived in Heathrow last night. The beavers, …

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