Scottish beavers should be relocated rather than shot

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Beaver in the USA

Scottish farmers believe that beavers weaken riverbanks and cause floods that damage crops. NatureScot, Scotland’s nature agency, issues culling licences to Scottish landowners to shoot beavers. In 18 months, they have authorised the deaths of 87 animals.

Beavers build first dam on Exmoor in 400 years

Beavers. Photo believed to be by Devon Wildlife Trust or the National Trust.

This Scottish policy of killing beavers is being challenged in the courts, as I understand it. Chris Packham, the well-known conservationist and television presenter, is supporting the legal challenge. His campaign group, Wild Justice, has given £5,000 to Trees for Life, the Highland rewilding charity which is bringing the legal action.

They argue that NatureScot is breaking the law because they are not making the killing of beavers a last resort. Packham says that the granting of licences to kill beavers is using a loophole in the law.

Nineteen Scottish beavers were relocated in 2019 to Devon, Somerset and Gloucestershire. The Beaver Trust said homes could have been found in England for many more. They say that if you can shoot a beaver with a bullet you can shoot the animal with a tranquilizing dart instead.

NatureScot said that they their policies were “robust unlawful” and that live-trapping was not always possible.

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