Translocation of beavers

Following the  parliamentary question raised by Mark Ruskell MSP on the translocation of beavers which was answered yesterday, Fisheries Management Scotland have responded with the following statement:

Dr Alan Wells, Chief Executive of Fisheries Management Scotland said, “When beavers in Scotland received legal protection, in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive, Scottish Ministers confirmed that they would be allowed to expand their range naturally. A national beaver strategy is currently under development, and we consider that it was premature to make this announcement until that process is complete.

“The Scottish Government have previously committed that NatureScot would deliver a mitigation scheme for land and fisheries managers to manage the negative impacts of beaver activity. Beavers are found in over 25 European countries and techniques for managing them are well developed. Despite this, the mitigation scheme has been slow to establish and to successfully support the delivery of tried and tested measures. There have also been ongoing delays in exploring innovative solutions and insufficient evaluation of any implemented mitigation. Simply put there appears to be insufficient resource to realise the support needed.

“It is often stated that beavers are ‘good for fish’ and for some fish species, this is undoubtedly true. However, Atlantic salmon are specialised for swift flowing waters, which would be reduced by extensive beaver damming. Furthermore, Atlantic salmon are highly migratory and vulnerable to obstruction of free passage within rivers. Further work is required to assess, understand and mitigate these issues for the benefit of Scotland’s precious Atlantic salmon.

“One of the key issues that still needs to be addressed is the cost of managing and mitigating the impacts of beavers. Members of the Scottish Beaver Forum recognise that this expense should not be borne by those who are negatively impacted. As a nation we need to learn to live with beavers again and in this transition phase the public benefit beavers will bring needs to be supported by the public purse: public money for public good.

“Concern about the costs of non-lethal management and mitigation has been identified by the Scottish Beaver Forum as a key barrier to wider acceptance of the desire to expand the range of beavers in Scotland, including through translocations. We are therefore seeking a clear public commitment by Scottish Ministers that greater investment will be made to support land and fisheries managers in managing and mitigating beaver activities.”