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Battle is on to save beaver family

This news post is almost 7 years old

​Scottish Government ministers say beaver family mus go

The fight is on to save a family of beavers living in the wild in Scotland from spending the rest of their lives in captivity.

They were found living on a river in the Beauly area in the Scottish Highlands and are to be trapped and put into captivity following a decision by Scottish Government ministers.

Trees for Life (TFL), the charity which discovered the group, says the family should either stay where they are or be relocated locally.

Film from camera traps set by the conservation experts from the charity in mid-June clearly show the presence of a mother and at least two young kits swimming and playing with their mum.

TFL shared news of the discovery with Scottish Natural Heritage and made a case to Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham that the family be allowed to stay.

However, she has said they are an “illegal release” and they must go.

Alan McDonnell, conservation projects manager at TFL, said: “It is disappointing that government is already starting the process of trapping this family without considering other options.

“Whilst we understand that the minister wants to address the concerns of landowners, the situation here is very different and we think it is possible to consult and negotiate with landowners in the immediate vicinity of the family and upstream to find an alternative outcome for the animals.”

Beavers have sparked controversy and concern from landowners in parts of Tayside where there was an illegal release in an area of intensive arable farming.

In contrast, much of the land neighbouring the newly confirmed beaver home in the Highlands is used for livestock farming.

Scottish Government ministers have agreed the animals – once native to Scotland but wiped out by hunters - can be reintroduced but only through an official programme, such as that at Knapdale, Argyll. The Tayside population has been given leave to stay as well.

McDonnell added: “We think these beavers have been active at this site for at least five years without any local concerns being raised. Which just goes to show that in the right location, beavers and other land use interests can co-exist successfully.”

Richard Hartland, a local resident, said: “Many people in the local community have no idea the beavers are there and they’re having very little impact on their surroundings. Why can’t they be left alone?”

TFL has written to Cunningham asking that the beavers be moved upstream into Glen Affric if they cannot remain on their current site.

Cunningham, however, said she won’t be moved: "We have been clear that we are minded that beavers can remain in Scotland and that their range can expand naturally.

"But the unauthorised release of beavers is a criminal offence and will damage the beaver reintroduction project.

"That is why I am asking Scottish Natural Heritage to take swift action in the Beauly area. We must avoid a repeat of the experience on Tayside."