Could Beavers be trouble for Salmon and Trout on our rivers? A letter to Shooting Times

Letter sent to The Shooting Times by Mike Swan, Head of Education

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Richard Negus is quite right that beavers have not been a problem for salmon on most Norwegian rivers (Country Diary 23 June). However, he is also quite right that the Norwegian rivers are very different from our own. Almost all are westward flowing, with a steep gradient where beavers cannot build dams even if they try. So, the fact that the beaver protagonists are apt to quote this example should be taken with a large pinch of salt. While resident trout can indeed wax fat in the beaver ponds, we should be sceptical of any benefit for migratory salmonids. Salmon and sea trout may well pass beaver dams easily enough in wet years, but in dry ones they could be a serious impediment to spawning migrations. Also, we should not forget that juveniles migrating seawards in spring may well be trapped.

We need some much more detailed scientific investigation before we unreservedly welcome beavers back into the British countryside. Meanwhile, further releases should be put on hold, before we risk further damage to populations of wonderful fish that are already in a parlous state because of human activity.

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Beaver rewilding

at 21:37 on 10/08/2021 by Gavin Meerwald

I strongly agree with both Keith Williams and WBW's comments. Surely if Wild Justice can force the establishment into such a disarray that it forces a halt to essential wildlife management, the same can be done with this ("sauce for the goose..."). At least we have the science from the GWCT to back this up rather than getting the 'keyboard warriors' to do their dirty work.

Beaver re wilding and future management.

at 13:59 on 02/07/2021 by Keith Williams

I am at a loss to understand why so far to date, angling riparian owners in Scotland, England and Wales have not co joined in a legal action calling for a Judicial review of the re wilding projects. Before any Beavers are released to any river catchment, there MUST be a public consultation held and comprises All Riparian owners, angling riparian owners and the vested interests on a catchment by catchment basis. Where a release is tested on opinion and found unwanted, that should be the end of the case and if pursued, the wildlife groups are put on warning that damages done will be pursued through the courts and the mitigation and legal costs be demanded. Such a response and determination would, one will hope be sufficient to stop the wildlife groups carrying out covert releases indiscriminately as has been done in the past as was the case with otters where ministerial licences have never actually been issued in England from the outset. The All Governing bodies for Angling should get their house in order, join forces nationally and drop all parochial attributes as a matter of urgency. Only then will fishery owners and their owners have peace of mind and have dominion over their lawful assets and property as once was the case.

Beavers and salmon

at 13:57 on 02/07/2021 by Hamilton

I would just point out- I have 4 separate groups of beavers living near me in Tayside; 2 in small lochs, 1 in the main Tay, and the last in a tributary of the Tay. None of these have built a dam in the last 10 years, they live in bank side burrows. Lots of trees felled, no dams!


at 13:42 on 02/07/2021 by Tim Martyn

The idea behind releasing beavers into the wild is that they will help to improve the water quality of rivers, by slowing the flow and trapping suspended solids behind dams. There is a school of thought that considers nature should revert to what it was a thousand years ago, forgetting that what we have now is a man made environment and, as such, needs to be actively managed by man. Man has decimated Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations and letting beavers run wild without managing them, particularly keeping them out of the rivers important to migratory fish such as salmon and sea trout, will result in disaster.

Beavers and Salmon

at 10:03 on 02/07/2021 by WBW

To even contemplate, let alone put into action the release of Beavers in the 21st century when migratory fish are facing their biggest crisis in history, is nothing short of a disgrace. These creatures are not needed, and more importantly from a conservation point of view they are not wanted. With Salmon and Sea trout numbers declining at an alarming rate due to many differing factors, why put yet another obstacle in their way. Having been involved with wildlife management all my working life, I am getting increasingly alarmed at the way we are heading. We have predatory birds and animals that receive protection way beyond their need. The National Gamekeepers Organisation uses the heading KEEPING THE BALANCE, sadly this is being eroded by city based decision makers. I fear for the future of our wildlife and those of us that have worked tirelessly to see it blossom.

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