Beavers ‘in the wild’ in Scotland?

Aligning several news reports makes for a story we did not expect, regarding beavers.

From the BBC in April 2007

Beaver (generic)

The beaver had been gnawing through tree trunks

A beaver living wild in part of rural Perthshire for the past several months has been captured.

It was thought beavers were on the loose after trees started to disappear at a fishery, with the trunks gnawed in two, and then a lodge later emerged.

Staff from Edinburgh Zoo have now captured what appears to be a male European beaver.

Releasing beavers into the wild is illegal but it is not yet known if there are any more in the area.

Tayside Police are investigating.

The animal is being kept temporarily at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie.

From the BBC in April 2008

Beavers believed to be on loose

Beaver (generic)

The punishment for releasing a beaver can be two years in jail

Further evidence has been discovered to suggest beavers are being illegally released into the wild in Scotland.

Damaged trees have been recorded in Perthshire, Angus and Fife, and it is thought the animals could be to blame.

Plans to officially reintroduce beavers into Argyll are being considered – but conditions have to be controlled.

Last year an illegal beaver was caught in Perthshire. The punishment for the crime is up to two years in jail or a £40,000 fine.

The beavers have apparently been released near Forfar in Angus and near Aberfeldy in Perthshire.

Gnawed trees have also discovered in Fife – although it has not yet been confirmed that beavers are to blame.

The exact locations of the animals cannot be released because attempts are under way to catch them.

Martin Gaywood, from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), told BBC Scotland that the beavers would find it tough to survive.

“They live in these family groups in the wild,” he said.

“Once the youngsters reach about two years of age they leave their family groups and go off to look for mates.

How to spot evidence of beavers

“I suspect what may be happening with these two individuals in Tayside is that they are by themselves, spring is in the air, they might be looking for mates which they’re never going to find.

“So there is a bit of a sad case here of some lonely beavers looking for mates.”

There are international guidelines which must be followed when any animal is being reintroduced.

They include, checking the animal, assessing the habitat and finding out local people’s feelings on the idea.

PC Douglas Ogilvie, from Tayside Police, is convinced the beavers have been deliberately released, rather than escaped from a collection.

He said: “If they’ve escaped they’ve come a long way, we don’t know of any collections in this area.

“There are lots of people out there who’d love to see beavers in the wild, but they have to be released under certain conditions.

“We have absolutely no idea what species this beaver is – it could be American it could be European.

“And there are also certain diseases which beavers can carry, so we must capture the beaver to find out if it’s clean and got no diseases.”

From the BBC in June 2008

Beaver’s ‘cruel’ death in the sea

A beaver - generic

Beavers are to be legally reintroduced in a test project next year

A beaver found dead on a beach in the Highlands suffered a “cruel” death after ingesting a large quantity of sea water, police said.

Its body was discovered at Eathie on the Black Isle in April.

Northern Constabulary’s wildlife crime officer, Ch Insp Paul Eddington, said its release and cause of death were being treated as a cruelty matter.

From the Press & Journal in August 2010

‘Extinct’ beavers found alive and well in Tayside

Newcomers probably escaped from collections – expert

By Lindsay Watling

Published: 07/08/2010

Beavers have been spotted in Tayside 400 years after they were thought to have vanished from Scotland’s landscape.

Wildlife experts believed the rodents had been hunted to extinction for their pelts, but evidence has emerged showing beavers may have been living in some parts of the country for years.

Keith Ringland, a wildlife photographer from Perth, has spent about 10 months following beavers after hearing claims they had been seen in the Tayside area.

“I began to investigate these claims and found considerable evidence of beaver populations,” he said. “They have been living in Tayside for probably a minimum of three to five years.”

Since taking up the trail, he has come across beavers living right across Tayside with sightings and signs from as far and wide as Glamis and Forfar, up to the Earn valley and even up to north Perthshire.

“From what I have seen in my field trips around Tayside, I would estimate the population of beavers within the Tayside region could be 50 to 100 animals,” he said. “All the signs point to the population breeding and thriving, whilst barely attracting any attention to their presence.”

A Scottish Natural Heritage spokesman confirmed there had been reported sightings of beavers in the Tayside area, as well as other areas of the country, but said they had probably escaped from private collections.

“We are quite frustrated that they have been able to escape,” he said. “There is an animal welfare issue because they are sociable animals, but their welfare is not being monitored.”

Mr Ringland agreed welfare was an issue, but said people need not be concerned about the presence of beavers near to their homes and farms.

He said: “Fears about beavers eating fish is completely unfounded as they are vegetarian only. Others express concern that their dams will hold up migrating fish.

“However, beaver dams usually only raise the water by one or two feet and salmon in particular would find this only a minor obstacle.”

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2 Responses to “Beavers ‘in the wild’ in Scotland?”

  1. A Ross says:

    PLease help save the feral beavers and bird habitats they have created by signing the petition.

  2. Admin says:

    Criticism over Tayside beaver trap plan. (see BBC link)

    Campaigners have hit out at plans to trap escaped beavers that are now living wild on rivers in Tayside.

    Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced earlier this week that it intended to recapture up to 20 beavers that have escaped from private collections.