Rescued Beaver Returns to the Wild

In a touching tale of resilience, the beaver originally rescued from a beach on the West coast of Scotland by the local Police, Coastguard and Scottish SPCA, has successfully recovered and been released today at a Forestry Land Scotland site in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park along with a female and a juvenile.

Found distressed on a beach on the Kintyre peninsula the beaver was given treatment at the local veterinary clinic before being taken to Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross for intensive care. 

Once stable he was then transferred to dedicated holding facilities at Five Sisters Zoo where he was introduced to a female and her offspring in adjacent facilities, allowing them to acclimate to each other through scent ahead of their joint release.

Upon further screenings, it transpired that the male was originally born in Knapdale, Argyll, and is from the beaver population established in the area as part of the Scottish Beaver Trial run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. He had been trapped and microchipped in 2019, and is known to be of Norwegian descent. With the majority of the Tay population, as well as the female and her offspring, being of Bavarian descent, their pairing brings a promising genetic novelty likely to enhance the genetic diversity of Scotland’s beaver population.

The release site, owned and managed by Forestry Land Scotland, was carefully selected within Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park because the wider catchment already has an existing beaver population and reinforcing the beaver population is expected to bring ecosystem benefits for the local area. The abundance of suitable habitat present will hopefully allow the newly-formed family to thrive here.

Sean Meechan, Wildlife Operations Lead at Scottish SPCA, said: “We have seen an increase in beavers needing our assistance in recent years across Scotland. With the amazing work that our rescue and prevention teams undertake from the rescue through to rehabilitation, it is fantastic to be able to continue to collaborate with so many other organisations to progress beyond the rehabilitation and successfully release these animals back into a suitable habitat.”

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, Head of Restoration at Beaver Trust, said: “As beavers increasingly become a normal part of Scottish wildlife, we foresee more instances requiring wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. This successful recovery and release of the beaver exemplifies the strength of collaboration and shared commitment to animal welfare across various organisations. Working closely together we’ve ensured the best possible outcome for these animals.

We are also excited about this release, as the male beaver belongs to a distinct genetic lineage. His pairing with the female could enhance the genetic diversity of Scotland’s beaver population.

 Maximising animal welfare and managing the genetic base of our beaver populations is always at the forefront of our minds when carrying out any conservation translocation of beavers in Britain.

Adam Welsh, Head of Education at Five Sisters Zoo, said: “We are thrilled to have been part of a beaver release that could have such a positive impact upon the genetic diversity of Scotland’s beaver populations. Everyone at Five Sisters Zoo is delighted to be part of such an important partnership with the Beaver Trust.”

Dr Jenny Bryce, NatureScot’s beaver team manager, said: This was a great team effort, involving many parties working together, from the land managers in Tayside through to the Beaver Trust working with NatureScot and FLS to find the ideal release site. This also fortuitously brings together beavers of different descent, potentially adding to the diversity of beaver genetics in Scotland.”

“Beavers are already well established in the Tay and Forth catchments, in Knapdale and more recently in the Loch Lomond and Cairngorms National Parks. We are keen to explore more opportunities for beaver releases at suitable locations in these catchments to bring benefits for people and nature.”

Dr Helen Taylor, Conservation programme manager at RZSS, said:Having been involved in the beaver project in Knapdale alongside our partners since 2009, it is fantastic to see a descendant of two the original founders from Norway heading off to a new area to hopefully contribute to the wider Scottish population. The opportunity to attempt a mix of DNA from Norwegian and Bavarian descended animals is really exciting, potentially producing new genetic combinations that could help enhance the long-term future of beavers in Scotland. We’ll have our fingers crossed for this particularly adventurous beaver as he heads into his new home in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.”

Sarah Robinson, Director of Conservation at Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “Rehabilitating this beaver and releasing it into a suitable habitat where it can thrive will help preserve the much-needed genetic diversity in Scotland’s beaver population.”

While beavers are naturally adapted to freshwater environments and exhibit a notable intolerance to long-term immersion in saltwater, they can disperse via saltwater bodies. This is considered natural behaviour, especially at this time of year. It is important to distinguish a disperser, which is a beaver moving naturally through different environments, from an animal clearly in distress, which would exhibit signs of health issues or abnormal behaviour. If you believe an animal is in distress, please seek appropriate support from wildlife professionals.

This successful release underscores the effectiveness of cooperation among various organisations. Rapid coordination and shared expertise has been instrumental in both the rescue and subsequent release of the beaver.

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