Beavers to remain in Angus until 2015

A COLONY of beavers has been chopping trees on the River Dean with the potential to block the northbound carriageway of the A90 with felled trees, writes Hannah Messer.

The beavers are referred to as ‘illegal’ as they were not officially introduced into the area unlike in other parts of Scotland. The beavers would have either escaped or been released without permission.

We were contacted by a reader who said: “The beavers have been cutting down trees, some of which if felled by them have the potential to land on the northbound carriageway of A90. They are currently building a dam and the area to the west side of the bypass and is set to be flooded before long.”

He added: “The authorities or some beaver group appear to be aware as a humane trap and cameras have been installed to watch them.

“Given the location and potential dangers surely shooting this non-native destructive beaver should be the course of action before some serious harm is done instead of studying its behaviour.

“I’m not against the presence of beavers, but proper control over them should be a lot tighter.”

A handful of beavers, believed to be from Bavaria, are thought to have escaped or been released into the wild in the Forfar area about fifteen years ago, but in recent years the beavers have multiplied, raising concerns about the impact they can have on local rivers and forests.

The Scottish Natural Heritage and BEAR Scotland are currently working on a proposed trial to protect the trees from the attention of the beavers.

A spokesperson for Scottish Natural Heritage said: “The Environment Minister decided last March to allow beavers in Tayside to remain in the wild until the decision on reintroduction in 2015. In the meantime, the Minister has asked us to monitor and study the Tayside population and not to remove them or reduce their number.

“If landowners have problems with beavers on their land, we’d ask them to contact us so we and the Tayside Beaver Study Group can look into solutions.

“We’re working with Transport Scotland and its contractor, BEAR, who have felled those trees felt to be close to the carriageway. All other trees have been marked and are being monitored.

“We and Transport Scotland are also committed to trialling tree protection measures in this area.

“The Tayside Beaver Study Group, which was set up following the Minister for Environment’s decision to tolerate the Tayside beavers, has a programme to trap animals at sites across Tayside.

“This is an important step as it allows us to understand individuals’ health status and the population’s genetic makeup. This is one of our study sites, so there is a trap and a camera to monitor it. We are particularly keen that these sites are left alone as far as possible.

“We’re aware there was significant food storage in this area, but we’re not aware of dam building. We will monitor this.”

A BEAR Scotland spokesperson said: “We are aware of beavers damaging trees in this area and are working with Transport Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage to monitor the situation.

“Safety is our number one priority and any trees which have been damaged to the extent that they could impact on the adjacent trunk road have immediately been safely felled. At the same time we are monitoring the remaining trees to ensure any further damage is spotted early and treated accordingly.

“Transport Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage are also working together on a proposed trial to protect the trees from the attention of the beavers.”