Lethal control


Lethal control is the intentional and humane despatch of animals.
As a European Protected Species (EPS), this is not a commonly available option in Britain and should only be employed under strict circumstances where it may be licensed as a last resort by relevant authorities where translocating the animal/s isn’t possible.

Why might lethal control be necessary?

In certain landscapes, beavers may cause localised impacts which conflict with existing land management practices and uses. That is unavoidable in a country where land management has changed significantly since they were last widespread.  

In order to realise the broader societal benefits of beavers, where these challenges or land use conflicts are experienced, and non-lethal mitigation measures are not feasible or will not sufficiently address the challenges that have arisen, licensed lethal control may be considered as a potential option. 

While this has to remain an option, we should seek to promote coexistence with beavers through mitigation measures first. One key reason for doing so is lethal control typically provides only a temporary reduction in beaver impacts as beavers will often recolonise areas.

Who can carry out lethal control?

It is illegal to lethally control a beaver in Britain without an appropriate licence. Lethal control should:

  • Only be conducted under licence and with landowner permission.
  • Be carried out by competent personnel with responsible firearms ownership.
  • Follow strict animal welfare best practices.

Beaver Trust does not support any unauthorised lethal control of beavers.

National rules apply

The law varies between England, Scotland and Wales in level of species protection and what actions can be carried out with or without a licence. We recommend visiting the websites below for more information.

  • Scotland: beavers are a protected species as of 2019. You can find NatureScot’s guidance here.
  • England: beavers are a protected species as of 2022. You can find Natural England’s guidance here.
  • Wales: beavers are not yet a protected species. Guidance from Natural Resources Wales is awaiting publication. See their licensing page for more information.

Alternatives to lethal control

Presently, there are abundant habitats offering little likelihood of conflict still to be found throughout Britain, offering an alternative option for responsible translocation instead of resorting to lethal control.

Our Restoration team have successfully trapped and translocated over 100 animals from conflict areas in Scotland to enclosed and wild release projects across Britain demonstrating that translocation repeatedly leads to meaningfully better outcomes for beavers, the landowners involved and our freshwater habitats.

Beaver Trust will always favour authorised translocation where possible ahead of any lethal control as it results in positive environmental and ecological benefits. 


beaver mitigation

The majority of conflicts can be managed by employing well-established techniques. 

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer setting a Bavarian beaver trap - Elliot McCandless


Information about moving beavers from areas of conflict.

Our team is here to help

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer

Head of Restoration

Dr Robert Needham

Restoration Manager

Sheelagh McAllister

Field Officer

Alana Skilbeck

Restoration Project Officer

Our restoration team have worked on beaver reintroduction projects across Britain and Europe and are highly experienced in beaver management and conflict resolution. If you own of manage land that is affected by beavers email them at restoration@beavertrust.org for FREE advice.

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