Eager beavers

In relation to your story, “Experts go wild for beavers as Highland trial proves a success” (18 June), it is very important not to over-hype the Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale, or to attribute to it levels of success that cannot be substantiated.

Contrary to your report, there were only ten beavers confirmed in the trial area at the end of the trial period, fewer than the number released five years previously in 2009.

The calculations of numbers portrayed are incorrect, as most of the kits that were born at Knapdale have died. At the start of the trial, we would have expected the beavers to grow in numbers and spread out over a wider area.

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The beavers appear to have declined in numbers, and any that have dispersed beyond the trial area have proved impossible to track and have been lost. They may, of course, re-appear another day in another glen.

It is very important that the Scottish Beaver Trial team and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) are given time to write a proper objective report of the Knapdale trial, warts and all, and to include information relating to the Tayside beavers in that 
report as well.

This latter population is important because there are probably now 20 times more beavers than are in Knapdale. They are breeding well, exhibiting truly natural behaviour and coming in to contact with a wider range of land issues and other interest groups than they might in the west.

RSPB and others are obviously now expecting an extended trial in the future, and are jockeying for position for some of the funds that they expect to arise from that.

They need to avoid the temptation to do this.

At the moment, this issue needs to have the space and time to be reported properly and accurately, taking in to account all information available from across the country. No-one will benefit by trying to jump the gun on this one.

Victor Clements

Native Woodland Advice