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23/03/16 13:45

Scottish beaver update

Interim protections announced for beaver population.

Measures to protect beavers ahead of any decision on the long term future of the species in Scotland have been outlined by the Environment Minister.

Aileen McLeod has confirmed that with complex issues still under careful consideration, a final decision on beavers within the context of Scottish wildlife and land management will be taken later this year.

In recognition of interim welfare concerns regarding beavers, the Scottish Government has been working closely with Scottish Natural Heritage and senior animal health experts to provide advice to farmers and land owners impacted by the animals. This includes:

• Providing information on the beaver breeding season to further address issues regarding the harm of pregnant or lactating beavers with dependent young
• The possible use of Nature Conservation Orders, where evidence emerges that welfare concerns are being ignored
• Continuing to advise on mitigation and alternatives to lethal control wherever possible
• When there are no other practicable options, making information available on the most humane methods of lethal control.

Environment Minister Aileen McLeod said:

“We understand that there are those for whom beaver activity can pose problems – particularly farmers with low-lying areas, often with highly productive farms but which are at risk of flooding or water logging from the damming activities of beavers. We are working closely with SNH, who are providing advice on mitigation and alternatives to lethal control but also guidelines regarding welfare considerations arising from the humane shooting of beavers, where this is the only option available.

“We are aware of and share the concerns raised by the recent information about the killing of beavers during the breeding season and we ask all land managers to heed the advice set out regarding when there are likely to be dependent young and shooting is particularly discouraged. The use of Nature Conservation Orders are available to us and should evidence emerge that welfare concerns for beavers are being ignored, we will look to use these powers to protect beavers in specific areas.”

Notes to editors

Nature Conservation Orders are made under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and can be used to prohibit specified actions, such as shooting beavers. Breach of a NCO is a criminal offence.