Forestry and Land Scotland reinforce beaver populations in Knapdale and Tayside

Three pairs of beavers have been successfully released at sites owned and managed by Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) earlier this month as part of a plan to reinforce existing beaver populations.

The licence application made by FLS was approved by NatureScot, Scotland’s nature agency, in September. The proposed release sites were deemed highly suitable for beavers with a low risk of beaver-human conflict.

The beavers were trapped under licence by Beaver Trust from various areas in Tayside where conflict was being experienced. They were then transported to Five Sisters Zoo, where they were held in specially built holding facilities until they could be screened to ensure they were fit and healthy before being released into the sites in Knapdale and Tayside owned and managed by FLS.

It is hoped that releasing beavers in these locations will strengthen the local beaver populations, retain genetic diversity within the Scottish population, provide local biodiversity benefits and contribute to the National Beaver Strategy.

“These wild releases are a much-welcomed step in realising action points outlined in the National Beaver Strategy and in strengthening this protected species status in Scotland” said Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, Head of Restoration at Beaver Trust.

“Appropriate translocations not only support those land managers experiencing conflicts but also those seeking to encourage the biodiversity benefits they can bring.”

Male exploring his new home © Beaver Trust

Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, said “This translocation, which is likely the first of many that Forestry and Land Scotland will facilitate, is another great step forward in helping to expand the population of beavers in Scotland.

“As well as removing any threat to the animals the move to these specifically selected locations will minimise any potentially negative impact on other species and land uses.

“The beavers released at Knapdale will also give visitors to the Argyll Beaver Centre more opportunities to see these animals in the wild. This will be a great boost for the local community group, the Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation (HAWO), which thanks to a recent asset transfer now owns and runs the centre.

“In all three locations, the beavers can now set about building their lodges and the dams that in their small way contribute to the restoration of Scotland’s natural environment, creating wetland habitats that will support a range of other species.”

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