Calls for beavers to be moved as shooting season begins

BEAVERS should be moved instead of being shot, according to an alliance of two dozen conservation charities and communities groups.

The Scottish Rewilding Alliance has called on the Scottish Government to allow beavers to be shifted from areas such as Tayside and placed in other parts of the country.

At present, landowners and farmers can apply for a licence to shoot unwanted beavers, with this year’s applications opening today.

Last year, 87 beavers – 20% of Scotland’s population – were shot.

The Scottish Government currently won’t let beavers be relocated from their present ranges in Knapdale and Tayside, instead only allowing them to spread naturally.

Carol Evans, director of Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “Allowing beavers to be shot in huge numbers, rather than simply allowing them to be moved to areas where landowners would welcome them, makes a mockery of their protected species status.”

Meanwhile, 39 organisations have called for the creation of an “English Beaver Strategy”, a long-term plan for restoring beaver populations south of the Border.

Their calls comes just weeks after the UK Government said it would allow beavers to stay on the River Otter in Devon.

Beavers are credited with improving wetland habitats to support wildlife, soak up carbon dioxide, and reduce flooding, but they can also damage farmers’ crops.

Read more conservation news on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.