European beaver feeding © Laurie Campbell
SWBG call for an immediate moratorium on shooting in advance of an early decision to enshrine EU legal protection of the species in Scotland.
Louise Ramsay, Co-Chair of SWBG says: “We flew a mitigation expert over from the US to our conference “The Necessary Beaver” in March this year to help farmers investigate mitigation techniques which might offer them a semi permanent solution to any problematic impacts on their land. It is depressing that most of the affected farmers appear to have chosen to shoot the animals before thoroughly exploring non-lethal alternatives. The government, for its own reasons, has taken a long time to make up its mind and this has meant a frustrating wait for farmers as well as conservationists to establish a set of workable protocols.
“The low-ground farms where beavers are the most challenging are also one of the greatest sources of diffuse pollution, a problem that beaver dams can help to mitigate. A more creative approach would enable farming and beavers to coexist to the benefit of us all.”
Bob Smith, Trustee of SWBG added “Beaver shooting also threatens the viability of a burgeoning ecotourism industry in the area of which the beavers are a vital component.”
Beavers, the eco-system engineers of wetland habitats bring many benefits to humanity, including flood and drought mitigation, multiplication of biodiversity and filtration of pollutants.
• In California they are being used to restore water to lands devastated by drought.
• Their dams are known to delay peak flow in times of flood by an average of 18 hours.
• Recent research has confirmed their ability to neutralise the impact of nitrogen pollution from agricultural run-off.
Louise Ramsay concludes, “Beavers deserve our respect and protection, not to be persecuted for the second time in Scotland’s history.”
Beavers were killed out in Scotland by the 16th century and returned to wild in Tayside from 2001 after escaping from enclosures.