Friday, 1 May 2015

Scottish beavers are thriving; but will they stay?

April 30, 2015

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

They disappeared from Scotland around 400 years ago, hunted to extinction. But Scottish beavers are now back and thriving.

It’s still a tenuous existence, though. The government will decide the fate of the big rodents at the end of this year. According to new reports, it’s “so far, so good” for them. The beavers seem to be sending out a message saying “Look, we like it here; we’re being good; we are squeaky clean; and, hey, we’re not American, we are German.”

Reports published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on behalf of the Tayside Beaver Study Group (TBSG) found that around 150 beavers living in the River Tay and Earn catchments are adapting well to Scottish life. They are free of diseases and parasites which might affect humans, domestic animals, and other wildlife. They are successfully producing young and still spreading.

The reports looked at the effect on other land users and at the various techniques for managing the beavers’ impact.

Beavers have been in Tayside since 2006. The first animals were probably escapees or illegal releases from private collections. In March 2012, Scotland’s Minister for Environment, Stewart Stevenson, decided to allow the Tayside beavers to remain in the wild for the duration of the official trial reintroduction in Knapdale, Argyll. The TBSG monitored the trial carefully until it ended in 2014. They will report their findings in full later this year. At that time, Scottish Ministers will decide if the beavers can stay.

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