The beaver reivers must die, demand English fishermen

ANGLERS in England have called for a cull of Scotland’s burgeoning wild beaver population to stop them roaming across the Border and destroying English fisheries.

The Angling Trust has written to Richard Benyon, the UK minister for fisheries and the natural environment, urging him to authorise the trapping and killing of the creatures to halt their spread into England, where fishermen claim they could cause untold damage.

The trust expressed its anger at a recent Scottish Government decision to allow a colony of around 100 beavers – believed to have escaped from private collections in Angus and Perthshire – to live and breed in the wild around the River Tay for at least the next three years.

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Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, said: “We believe that the Scottish Government has failed in its duty to protect the whole of the UK by allowing this situation to develop. These illegal releases should never have happened, and when they did, a rapid decision should have been taken to eradicate the animals from the wild.

“Quite clearly there will be nothing to stop the beavers moving south and into England with the potential to create damage to our river systems and spread diseases and potentially lethal parasites.”

Mr Lloyd went on to describe a scenario in which invading Scottish beavers might dam rivers, block access to fish spawning areas, fell trees and infect wildlife and people with tapeworms.

A trust spokesman added that beavers caused an increased flood risk and felled garden trees, saying: “An adult beaver can bring down a ten-inch wide tree in under an hour, and a single beaver family will fell up to 300 trees a year.”

Mr Lloyd explained that, ideally, the English anglers would like to see powers being brought into force to authorise culling of beavers in both Scotland and England. But, in the first instance, they were asking Mr Benyon to apply to the European Commission for an exemption to the beaver’s European Protected Status to allow them to be controlled and their dams to be dismantled, should they cross the Border.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are aware of the two free-living populations in Scotland but to our knowledge there are no wild populations of beavers in England. Any releases in England would currently be unlawful without a licence from Natural England.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman defended the decision to allow the escaped beavers to remain at large.

She said: “Scottish ministers decided to allow the Tayside beavers to remain in place for the time being to allow more information to be gathered on their impact on the environment and other species.

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“If the beavers spread to other catchment areas they will be removed. There is no evidence at all that they have spread to the Tweed.

“Beavers co-exist happily with coarse and game fish in many other parts of the world and we will continue to monitor the position in Scotland.”