A report published by Scottish Natural Heritage has confirmed that beaver numbers are expanding in Tayside and that they are beginning to establish a presence in the neighbouring Forth catchment.
The Trust is concerned that unregulated culling is taking place is some areas. We are calling for the Scottish Government to speed up progress on introducing protected status for beavers.
Our Director of Conservation Susan Davies said: “This comprehensive survey shows a welcome expansion in their range since 2012. Beavers are now widespread in Tayside and they are starting to recolonise other areas including the River Forth. It is only a matter of time before they enter other river catchments.
“Beavers provide a range of natural benefits, from reducing flooding to creating vibrant new habitats for other wildlife. We believe they have a major role to play in the recovery of Scotland’s degraded ecosystems.
“There is strong evidence that any negative impacts of beavers are localised and can be mitigated by adopting simple techniques that are widely used elsewhere in Europe. We welcome the announcement that farmers and other land managers will be able to access free support to help minimise any conflicts.
“However, it is alarming that there are a number of areas where beavers are absent due to unregulated culls. Killing beavers should only be permitted under licence in situations where their impact are truly severe, and where alternative non-lethal approaches have failed. The current lack of regulation means that there are no standards to ensure that beavers are controlled humanely.
“We believe it is time for the Scottish Government to complete the steps required to give beavers protected status. This was promised at the end of 2016 but progress has been too slow. Granting legal protection would ensure that beavers are allowed to thrive across Scotland, and that the management of their impacts will be carried out according to the joint principles agreed between the Trust, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) in late 2016.”