Studies find beavers are making themselves at home

More than 150 beavers living in the Tayside area, including around Forfar, have been found to be well adapted to living in Scotland, according to new reports.

The study by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) also found that the Eurasian beavers, once native to Britain, are also free of diseases of concern to humans, domestic animals and other wildlife.

Impacts on various land use interests are also documented together with the results of trials of various techniques for managing the effect of beavers.

The beavers have been in Tayside since at least 2006, and are thought to originate either from escapes or illegal releases from private collections.

In March 2012, environment minister Stewart Stevenson opted to allow the Tayside beavers to remain in the wild for the duration of the official trial reintroduction of beavers in Knapdale, Argyll.

The Tayside Beaver Study Group was set up to gather information and monitor their impacts on land uses and find out more about how to manage them. The findings will help Scottish Ministers decide later this year whether or not to permanently reintroduce beavers to Scotland.

The final report on the work of the Tayside Beaver Study Group shows the beavers are well adapted to living in Scotland, are successfully producing young and still spreading through the Tayside catchment.

David Bale, study group chairman and SNH’s Area Manager for Tayside & Grampian, said: “These are very useful findings. They show there is no evident risk of diseases being transmitted from the Tayside beavers to other animals, or indeed to humans. The genetic tests tell us that they would be suitable for permanent reintroduction to Scotland.”