Eurasian Beavers living in northern Britain, Scotland actually, are to be given legal protection so that they can spread their range naturally.
This is a big step forward for rewilding proponents and anti-de-wilding proponents but I forecast trouble ahead. Already the NFUS is up in arms about this and has said that proper management of the species would be needed and John Mackay, a potato grower from Angus, is reported as suggesting that proper management might include destroying Beaver dams wherever they are built. It’s always good to have an evidence-based position and seek the common ground (which might be a bit sodden in this case).
I hope to post a guest blog from the Scottish Wildlife Trust on this subject on Monday – the rewilding theme continues.
Here are links to news coverage of the announcement by the Scottish government:
I’m delighted that Beavers are back and partly through properly regulated pilot projects but they are also back through illegal releases. How should we feel about that?
I think that conservationists are getting fed up with the illegal killing of protected species such as Pine Martens, Wildcats, Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers (to name but a few) and we will see more and more unlicensed and therefore illegal reintroductions going on both north and south of the Border. I’d be surprised if van loads of Pine Martens aren’t already finding their ways to English forests (as well as properly licensed to Welsh ones) and more of this will happen. Mammals may be a better bet than most bird species as they sometimes remain largely unnoticed until their populations are reasonably well-established.
Given that governments north and south of the Border are being slow to clamp down on illegality which kills protected species, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if those who wish to help those and other persecuted species think they’ll bend the rules too. Raptor persecution is illegal but happens routinely and has massive impacts on the status of protected species whereas a reintroduction project requires licences and all that red tape that landowners usually complain about. You can’t let some native White-tailed Eagles go in East Anglia but you can let 40+ million non-native Pheasants out each year. It’s all a bit of a mess. And that’s what happens when the criminality is allowed to continue.