Conservationists condemn deaths of nearly 90 beavers shot despite protected status
Scottish conservationists have condemned the shooting of nearly 90 wild beavers, just a year after they were given protected status.
It has been illegal to kill the animals, or to destroy their established dams without a license since May last year - an achievement that was hailed by environmentalists.
But new figures show that 40 licenses were awarded between May and December 2019, allowing the holders to use lethal force to control beaver numbers.
The Scottish government also issued 20 further licenses for other non-lethal measures to be used, including 19 licenses to remove or manipulate dams.
Wild beavers were only successfully reintroduced in Argyll in 2009, having been driven to extinction in the UK centuries ago.
Dr Helen Senn, head of conservation and science programmes at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland: "We are deeply disappointed to see the figures confirming 87 beavers were culled under licence in 2019.
“With lethal control at this scale, it is clear that the conservation status of beavers in Scotland comes under question.
"Answers are now needed on the effects that this level of control will have on population numbers. Many years of work by the conservation community have returned this wonderful native species to Scotland and it would be a travesty for this progress to backslide now.
"We look forward to working with the Scottish Beaver Forum to establish a positive future for this species and a roadmap for its recovery across the country."
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.