Monday, 6 May 2019

'Historic day for Scotland' as beavers get protected status


New legislation makes it illegal to kill beavers or destroy dams and lodges without a licence
Libby BrooksScotland correspondent
Wed 1 May 2019 10.50 BSTLast modified on Wed 1 May 2019 11.04 BST
Wildlife campaigners have hailed a “historic day for Scotland” as beavers are granted protected status nearly a decade after their successful reintroduction in Argyll.
It is now illegal to kill the animals, or destroy established dams and lodges, without a licence.
While wildlife groups emphasise the widespread ecological benefits of the beavers’ reintroduction, including increasing biodiversity and reducing flood risk, farming representatives continue to raise concerns about damage to agricultural land and waterways.
Welcoming the European Protected Status, which comes into force on Wednesday, Barbara Smith, the chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “This is an historic day for Scotland and a milestone for the many of us who have worked together for years on the return of this species.
“[It] is a vital step in welcoming beavers back as a natural part of our ecosystem and a most welcome success as part of wider and continued efforts to protect and enhance our natural heritage.”
Announcing the legislation earlier this year, the Scottish government’s environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, described the beaver as being of “huge importance” to Scotland’s biodiversity, while acknowledging that their impact on farming meant it was necessary to include a licensing system for culling “when there is no other alternative”.
The vice-president of NFU Scotland, Martin Kennedy, warned on BBC Radio Scotland of a “ticking timebomb” as the beaver population grew. He told Wednesday’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Beavers create problems with drainage systems in low-lying areas, the undermining of flood-banks, and these can run into thousands of pounds.”

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