A farmer has offered a sanctuary for Tayside beavers set to be killed under lethal control licences.
In a first for Scotland, Tom Bowser of Argaty Red Kites is introducing beavers to his site near Stirling.
“It will be such a thrill to introduce our visitors to these wonderful animals and to witness the beavers’ amazing biodiversity-boosting work,” says Tom.
Beavers were on ‘prime agricultural land’ and faced being shot
Beaver Trust will release two families and one pair of the semiaquatic rodents at Argaty later this year.
The trust, which is funding and overseeing the relocation project, did not reveal the animals’ previous location.
However, it was confirmed to be ‘prime agricultural land’ in Tayside.
NatureScot had issued Tayside landowners with licences to kill beavers to prevent damage to farmland.
But, in also granting Tom a licence to translocate the animals, the agency made a landmark decision.
Project is a first for Scotland
The translocation project is the first of its kind in Scotland.
And it marks a move away from always opting to shoot the animals where they are causing problems for farmers.
Tom says obtaining the translocation licence was “challenging”.
He says “a long time and a lot of hard work” has gone into the project.
“We hope this will help the process become more streamlined for viable projects in the future.
“We want to thank Beaver Trust for supporting the project financially and with technical expertise.”
He also extends his thanks to the landowners in Tayside who cooperated with the trapping and removal of the beavers.
There are already existing beaver territories just a few miles from Argaty, which is a working farm as well as a popular draw for tourists because of its red kite feeding station.
Greens say there was ‘terrible over-reliance on shooting’
Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell MSP supports the translocation project.
“Tom Bowser and the team at Argaty deserve huge congratulations for the work they have done to get to this point.
“There has been a terrible over-reliance on shooting beavers in recent years.”
Mark says translocation is the “most humane” option.
Beavers are not popular everywhere
However, the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland has proved controversial.
National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland says in the wrong place, beavers can cause “significant and costly agricultural damage.”
The Green MSP believes Argaty is the right place for the animals.
He says increasing the beaver population will benefit the wider environment.
Eva Bishop is spokesperson for Beaver Trust.
She says the team at Argaty have “achieved such an important and positive step forward for Scottish beavers and beaver conservation across Britain.”
And she hopes they have inspired other land managers to consider giving beavers a home.
Eva says the trust is “always glad of the opportunity to work supporting viable projects like this one.”
Beavers are native to Scotland but disappeared in the 16th century as a result of hunting.
In 2009, the Scottish Wildlife Trust reintroduced them back into Scotland’s countryside.
They have been a protected species since 2019.