Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Escaped Eurasian beavers breeding in Scotland but pose challenge to farming

More than 150 beavers living in the wild in Perthshire and Angus after fleeing private collections, but study says animals could cause drainage systems to fail

Severin Carrell Scotland correspondent

Wednesday 29 April 2015 16.04 BST
Last modified on Wednesday 29 April 201519.42 BST

Naturalists have confirmed that more than 150 beavers are now living and breeding successfully in the wild in the southern Highlands of Scotland after escaping from nearby private collections.

The Eurasian beavers, which were once native to the UK, have been found living across hundreds of square miles of lochs and rivers in Perthshire and Angus after they began escaping from private collections nearly a decade ago.

An expert report for Scottish Natural Heritage said the beavers were adapting very easily but were posing serious challenges for farmers, landowners and drainage systems in some places along the river Tay which could require intervention.

Hunted to extinction around 400 years ago, they were disease-free and adapting well, the researchers said, suggesting they would be an ideal group to use to reintroduce the species Scotland-wide if ministers agreed.

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