They shoot beavers, don’t they?

Land owners and managers in Scotland yesterday welcomed the Court of Session’s decision to uphold NatureScot’s existing beaver management framework, which they said allowed them to deal with negative impacts from beavers, such as the destruction of trees and habitat.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of the landowner’s organisation, Scottish Land & Estates commented on the outcome of a judicial review of NatureScot’s approach, which allows the issuing of lethal control licences for beavers.

“The framework is the best way forward to balance conflicts between conservation and land management and those who require licences can look forward to them being granted in appropriate circumstances in future,” said Laing who agreed that lethal control should opn;ly be used as a last resort.

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The legal challenge to the existing arrangements made by the environmental group Trees for Life was based on the premise that relocation was preferable to granting licences to shoot beavers where their activities were threatening land and livelihoods.

While the Scottish government had declared beavers a legally protected species in May 2019, Trees for Life considered that as NatureScot had issued 87 lethal control licences in the following year, it was failing in its duty to protect beavers and was breaking the law by issuing the licenses without exploring all other options sufficiently.

The court also ruled that NatureScot should communicate clearly the reasons for issuing licenses for lethal control - and environmental groups claimed that such a requirement would help ensure more beavers were translocated to other areas rather than shot.

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