Eurasian Beaver allowed to stay

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Until the 16th Century, Eurasian Beavers (castor fiber) lived throughout Scotland. They were hunted to extinction for their fur and a glandular oil (castoreum) thought to contain medicinal properties.

In May 2008 the Scottish Government granted a licence to undertake a five-year, scientifically monitored trial reintroduction of Eurasian beavers to Knapdale Forest in Argyll. The Trial was independently monitored by SNH, who also advised the Scottish Government on the outcomes of the trial and on whether the various licence conditions were met by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RZSS.

Eurasian Beaver (Farming UK)

Beaver Dam (Geograph)

On 24 November 2016, the Scottish Government made the landmark announcement that beavers are to remain in Scotland and that the Eurasian Beaver is to be formally recognised as a native species. They will be afforded full legal protection in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive, populations in Tayside and Argyll are allowed to stay and the species will be free to expand its range naturally.

This is the first time a mammal has been officially reintroduced to the UK and this decision could pave the way for further introductions in Scotland. It will of course have to be actively managed, in line with practices in other European countries in order to minimise adverse effects on farmers and other land owners. It remains an offence for beavers to be released without a licence into the UK, punishable by up to two years imprisonment and a fine.

Further information can be found on the SNH Website.

Photo: Gnawed Beaver Tree (SWT)