GWCT statement on protected species status for the European beaver in Scotland


Following the announcement in February 2019 from Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, that the Eurasian or European beaver would be granted protected species status in Scotland from 1 May 2019, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust has said:

Protected species status for the European beaver under European law, following a public consultation in early 2018, sets a difficult precedent. Whilst the Knapdale beaver population is the outcome of an official trial and reintroduction, the Tayside beavers, now thought to number some 430 animals in 100 different territories, are the result of illegal release several years ago.

This growing population has raised concerns particularly among farmers in the Strathmore area with regard to damage to agricultural land and watercourses. This has directly impacted on productive farming. 

Once added to the protected species list, we note that the Cabinet Secretary has emphasised the need for management plans and that it may be necessary to minimise or prevent beaver impacts on farming and other interests with licensing by SNH for culling when there is no other alternative.

It is essential that these plans are used to deliver adaptive management, including options for lethal control, where the need to take action is demonstrated.

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