New evidence that beaver ponds act as nitrogen sinks

A recent paper by Lazar et al. in the Journal of  Environmental  Quality reports that 5–45% of watershed nitrate-N loading in rural watersheds of southern New England is removed by beaver ponds. This confirms that beaver ponds are substantial sinks for nitrogen (Gizmodo; see Bibliography page for full reference).

Scottish government delay the decision about the future of beavers in Scotland until later this year

Scottish ministers were due to announce a decision about the future of beavers in Scotland in the summer of 2015, just a few months after the 5-year official trial release of beavers at Knapdale had come to the end. However, they have postponed their announcement until later this year (Scottish Government). The delay is disappointing to many people and has raised concerns about the welfare of the beavers, especially those on the River Tay, which currently have no legal protection (see BBC News, The Herald, Evening Times).

Beavers help prevent flooding on the River Tay, Scotland

A recent article published in Freshwater Biology (also see Bibliography page) based on 13 years of study demonstrates that beaver dams on the River Tay help prevent flooding and improve local habitats. This study counters the claim by landowners in Alyth, Perthshire that beaver activity contributed to the flooding in the village. The debate about the merits of the presence of beavers in the Scottish countryside continues, as everyone waits for the Scottish government to decide on their future. The story has been widely reported: BBC News, Scotland NowThe GuardianThe National, Wildlife Articles.

Landowners on Tayside in Scotland shoot breeding female beavers

Scientists at Edinburgh Zoo have carried out post-mortem investigations on 23 beavers from Tayside, Scotland. Of the 21 shot, two were in late pregnancy and two had recently given birth. This has raised welfare concerns about how beavers should be managed (BBC News, The Scotsman, Granset, The News Hub, UK Daily). The Scottish Government has yet to make a decision about the future of beavers in Scotland.

2nd beaver kit filmed at Kapdale

The Scottish Beaver Trial has released film of a second beaver kit at Knapdale.

New beaver kit filmed at Knapdale Forest in Argyll, Scotland

Film of a young beaver kit exploring the top of its lodge at Knapdale, where beavers have been officially released, has been released by the Scottish Beaver Trial. This is encouraging news and shows that the beavers are still breeding at the site. Although the 5-year trial ended earlier this year, an education ranger is still present, giving talks, guided walks and keeping an eye on the beavers. The Scottish Government is expected to make a decision about the future of beavers in Scotland, including those on the River Tay, later this year – see The BBC, The Herald, Western Morning News and The Guardian,

Report on Beavers in Scotland sent to Scottish Government Ministers

Scottish Natural Heritage sent the final report on Beavers in Scotland to Scottish Government Ministers this month. The report summarising 20 years of work on beavers in Scotland (including the official trial at Knapdale, the Tayside Beavers Study Group, the Beaver-Salmonid Working Group and a range of other studies on beavers) will help inform the Scottish Government as to the future of beavers in Scotland.

Wild beavers on the River Otter in SW England have bred

At least one of the two adult female beavers living wild on the River Otter in Devon has had two (or possibly more) young, called kits. Recent film taken by local film-maker Tom Buckley can be seen on the BBC News website and shows the mother guiding the young through the water (also see CBBC, Daily Mail, The Plymouth Herald, The Guardian, The Telegraph). This is positive news for the Beaver Otter Beaver Trial, a partnership lead by Devon Wildlife Trust, which has recently been given a licence by Natural England to study the colony (first confirmed to be present in February 2014) for five years. In all, there may be 11 or more beavers in the colony. Recently, as a condition of the licence, the adult beavers were briefly taken into captivity and tested for disease; they were all considered healthy. The mother and kits appear fit and well. There are no plans to tag the young beavers yet, although it is likely they will be at some time in the future. Local people and interested naturalists are asked to try and avoid disturbing the beavers by staying on the footpaths and keeping their dogs under control when near the river.

Beavers on the River Tay in Scotland appear to be doing well

A report published by the Tayside Beaver Study Group in April 2015 indicates that more than 150 beavers are living in the River Tay and River Earn catchments in Scotland (see BBC News Scotland). The beavers are of Eurasian origin, rather than the North American species, and have been in the Tayside area since 2006 or earlier. They appear to be well adapted to living in Scotland and are free of diseases of concern to humans, domestic animals and wildlife. The report considers the impacts of beavers on the landscape and in many places they appear to pose few problems. However, in some situations they can have negative impacts, for example, by burrowing into flood banks and drainage ditches causing flooding of agricultural land. The report considers these impacts and ways of managing them and also the future if beavers are allowed to remain in Scotland. Scottish government ministers are due to make a decision about the future of the beavers in Scotland (including those in the official trial release in Knapdale) in the near future.

River Otter Beaver Trial – update

On the evening of Monday 23rd March, the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) released three beavers back onto the River Otter in East Devon, marking the official start of the River Otter Beaver Trial (see post on January 28th 2015).
  A total of 9 beavers had been living wild in the River Otter, in two separate family groups, and following a successful campaign by local residents and DWT, they were allowed to remain on the condition that they were confirmed to be Eurasian beavers and free of some key diseases.  The second family group were then released the following evening back into their own territory about 5 miles downstream.
  Five of the beavers had been rounded up from their two territories by ecologists from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) with great care and precision. They were taken to a holding facility where they were screened for the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis by experts from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. At the same time, a wide range of other tests were conducted to confirm they were fit and healthy, and DNA samples taken to confirm their species, and also to allow their inter-relatedness to be determined. The 5 year trial was granted a licence by Natural England with a range of conditions which included a detailed exit strategy, which would be enacted should the research work suggest unsustainable and detrimental effects in the trail area.
  Further information can be found on The Wildlife Trust’s web site and in the media: BBC News, The Guardian, Western Morning News, The Telegraph, Mail Online (also some of you may have missed the news articles published on 11th March 2015).

« Older Entries

Newer Entries »