An urgent bid to save protected beavers from being illegally shot and killed has been launched by Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess and supported by a leading wildlife charity.
The Highlands and Islands MSP has also secured cross party backing for a motion she has lodged at Holyrood that would see new safe havens quickly identified as part of a major relocation programme to protect beaver families and enhance biodiversity.
Ariane, who is Scottish Environment LINK’s Beaver Champion, said:
“Beavers are protected species yet are still being shot and killed, rather than relocated, if they are perceived to be damaging to farms or infrastructure.
“But protecting more beavers through relocation will help Scotland play its part in the newly-agreed UN target to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030.
“My motion encourages public bodies and wildlife charities to do all they can to make new sites available for beaver relocations, to enable more beavers to be moved to safety more quickly in the new year.
“They are vital ‘ecosystem engineers’ who create habitat for other species, bolstering local wildlife.
“They also provide important ‘ecosystem services’ for us humans, including ground water storage and flood prevention – as well as being fascinating creatures that are a joy to observe in nature.”
The motion, which has received cross-party support, commends the successful application for the relocation of a family of beavers from Tayside to Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve.
But it says that a culture change is needed to normalise relocation instead of shooting beavers that are unwanted in a given area.
Steve Micklewright, Convenor of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance and Chief Executive of Trees for Life, said:
“It is excellent that the RSPB, a member of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, has been granted a licence to relocate beavers onto its land in Loch Lomond.
“Now it’s important that landowning government agencies such as Forestry and Land Scotland and NatureScot follow this example, and make their own applications to move beavers to areas across Scotland where these habitat-creating, biodiversity-boosting, flood-preventing animals can bring the most benefits for nature and people.
“It’s also important that NatureScot streamlines the licence application process for relocating beavers, and that resources are in place to ensure local communities are fully consulted and involved.”