Union reiterates opposition to reintroduction of beavers on Tayside following SNH report

NFU Scotland is reiterating its opposition to the reintroduction of beavers in Tayside following reports published today (29 April) by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The Union has previously stated its opposition to permanent re-introduction of beavers on both practical and financial grounds, including that it is deeply sceptical that beavers can be excluded from areas of highly productive farmland that are heavily reliant on complex drainage systems and flood banks.

It is concerned that the time spent on, and private cost incurred in, removing dams and pipe blockages and repairing flood defences is already significant and will only increase if the population is afforded protection and thereafter grows.

The Union met with Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Dr Aileen McLeod on Tayside farms last week to discuss the damage caused to farmland and to see first-hand the impact they are having on agriculture in this area.

NFU Scotland’s Deputy Director of Policy Andrew Bauer commented: “We believe that already stretched SNH species management budgets cannot cope with the high costs of managing what many call “nature’s engineer” and that beaver reintroduction would divert resources and attention away from helping indigenous species, such as the wildcat and capercaille that are under threat.

“The Union calls on Dr McLeod to not exacerbate the existing issues by giving beavers protected status.

“The three year funding cycles for the sea eagle and geese schemes are evidence that any compensation for beaver impacts would be unlikely to be secure over the long-term.

“A reintroduction would legitimise the illegal release of beavers in Tayside, and therefore incentivise others to take similar action to reintroduce species ‘via the back door’.

“We have a number of members who are affected by the illegal reintroduction, with one member whose flood bank collapsed due to burrowing of beavers; and another who has had to remove 35 dams from his farm; just a few instances where beavers are already causing problems for farmers.”

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