Statement on NatureScot’s 2022 Beaver Management Report

Last week saw the publication of NatureScot’s Beaver Management Report for 2022, and we commend the efforts taken by NatureScot to work towards delivering Scotland’s beaver strategy.

It is encouraging to see an increased level of translocation carried out in 2022, but we remain disappointed to learn that the number of beavers lethally controlled under licence (63) continues to exceed the number translocated (45). We understand and accept that there will be situations going forward where lethal control will be the only viable solution available to resolve certain conflicts. However, from our large body of work, we are able to demonstrate that translocation leads to positive outcomes for beavers, including their welfare. Combined with NatureScot’s 2015 report ‘Beavers in Scotland’, which identified 120,000 ha of suitable beaver habitat, we feel that translocation is still not being fully utilised to restore beavers to new areas of Scotland, where their engineering can bring real environmental benefits.

We remain concerned about the number of dams removed under licence (108) during the reporting period. Beavers are a unique ally in the face of the climate and biodiversity crises, but if we can’t coexist with beaver damming activities, we will be unable to fully realise the biodiversity benefits and ecosystem services of beaver wetlands. While we appreciate that beaver dams can create localised flooding issues and understand concerns around fish passage, we would like to see a greater level of consideration given to the actual impacts of a dam, rather than the presumed consequences that might occur during the licensing process.

We greatly welcome the proposals to implement a new application form for all beaver licences, and for the submission of carcasses to NatureScot for post mortem to become a condition of lethal control licences. We hope these proposals are adopted as they could lead to greater scrutiny around the issuance of a lethal control licence, an approach to licensing that becomes consistent with other protected species, and an improved understanding of the welfare impacts of lethal control.

Moving forward, we urge NatureScot to further prioritise the expansion of translocation efforts to new areas across Scotland. We also ask other governmental bodies such as Forestry Land Scotland and Scottish Water to become more proactive in their approach to restoring beavers to sites they are responsible for managing.

In conclusion, we congratulate NatureScot on the significant progress made in 2022, and we remain committed to engaging in constructive dialogue and collaborative efforts to deliver the vision set out in Scotland’s National Beaver Strategy.

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