Beavers could return to Cairngorms in efforts to boost numbers

Beavers could return to the Cairngorms as part of efforts to boost their population.

The animals died out in Scotland around 400 years ago but were reintroduced in 2009.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is now set to speak to the public about a number of possible release sites.

As part of the plans some beavers already living in and around the Tay could be trapped and moved to the upper area of the River Spey.

Beavers are considered ‘nature’s engineers’ with an incredible ability to restore the landscape, help combat climate change and boost biodiversity.

Potential release sites are at Rothiemurchus, Wildland Cairngorms and RSPB Scotland Insh Marshes.

Dr Sarah Henshall, head of conservation at the Cairngorms National Park Authority said: ‘Working with land managers, we aim to release beaver families in three locations in the Upper Spey catchment.

‘In collaboration with land managers and communities we then plan further releases within the catchment over the next few years to ensure there are enough for a viable population. Our beavers will be coming from the Tay Catchment and will be trapped under licence by The Beaver Trust.

‘They will go through health checks in a zoo – and if we get the go ahead from NatureScot – they will then be transported to their release sites in the Cairngorms National Park soon after.

‘We need to apply for a licence from NatureScot as beavers are a European Protected Species.’

She said the project would have to show there were enough landowners willing provide locations for beavers, and a management plan was in place.

Rothiemurchus estate and RSPB Scotland supported the project.

Wildland Limited is also set to host a family of beavers.

Thomas MacDonell, director of conservation for Wildland Limited said: ‘Our habitat restoration work over the last 20 years has resulted in one of our sites being considered suitable as a beaver release site, this is a welcome recognition of our contribution to a healthier environment.

‘We are looking forward to welcoming beavers to the Spey catchment as it is expected that they will bring many positive outcomes.

‘Others may be less sure, perhaps they are concerned about potential negative outcomes for them, this is why this engagement process is extremely helpful.

‘At Wildland Cairngorms we support both the relocation and the engagement.’

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