On 1st May 2019 Eurasian beavers in Scotland join the list of protected species. Scottish Wild Beaver Group has campaigned for many years for this outcome and is delighted with this news.

The Government’s statement on their website is as follows:

‘Beaver populations reintroduced to Argyll and Tayside will remain, and the species will receive legal protection as European Protected Species in May 2019. The species will be allowed to expand its range naturally.

This decision will see the return of a species that was part of our wildlife for thousands of years before becoming extinct here around the 16th century.

Beavers benefit nature. As ‘ecosystem engineers’ their activities can create wetland habitats, improve habitat structure and diversity and enhancing biodiversity. They can also alleviate flooding, improve water quality and bring socio-economic benefits.

In some places and situations the activities of beavers can have negative impacts on other interests such as farms, gardens, or other land. Sometimes this can be easily managed to prevent damage such as by fencing vulnerable areas or protecting individual trees and in others there is the potential for more novel techniques.

We will provide free and expert advice to help people experiencing problems and where possible to provide these measures to minimise damage through the beaver mitigation scheme.

However, we also accept that in some cases such measures are unlikely to be effective or appropriate and the beavers themselves will need to be managed, including by lethal control. Where this occurs we need to make sure that it will help resolves the problems being experienced whilst at the same time taking into account welfare concerns and without preventing the overall aim of expansion of the existing beaver populations in Scotland.

Our Beavers in Scotland report examines the interactions between beavers and other interests and draws on 20 years of work, from our experience in Scotland and from other European and North American Countries. Our approach is set out in the Scottish beaver Management Framework which will help ensure that we realise the many benefits that beavers can bring whilst at the same time managing the situations where they may impact on other interests.

When protection comes into force, simple management techniques to prevent beaver damage – like protecting trees or woodland or removing newly built (less than two week old) dams, won’t need to be licensed. However, other actions such as removal of more mature dams, manipulating dams or lethal control, can only be carried out under licence. Our guidance for land managers which forms part of the Management Framework describes what does and does not require a licence.”

Scottish Wild Beaver Group will continue its work of advocacy through education, mitigation and campaigning where necessary to further the interests of the beavers and the people that live alongside them. Our network of beaver advocates will continue to keep a close eye on the welfare of their local beavers and we will work to see the managed expansion of the species across Scotland.’