Beavers are granted a protected status in Scotland after a decade of pushing for the legislation to do so.
Roseanna Cunningham, environment secretary of the Scottish government, announced the legislation earlier this year and said beavers are of “huge importance” to the country’s biodiversity, and their impact on agriculture was necessary to include a licensing system for culling “when there was no other alternative.”
“We accept that land managers need to have the ability to deal with localized negative impacts caused by beavers. However, it is equally important to ensure lethal control is only used as a last resort, and this does not threaten the successful spread of beavers into other areas of Scotland,” Jo Pike, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said.
For years, beavers were trapped and shot, because of unregulated culling.
“Beavers create problems with drainage systems in low-lying areas, the undermining of flood banks, and these can run into thousands of pounds,” Martin Kennedy, vice president of National Farmers Union Scotland, told Good Morning Scotland program.
Several wildlife groups argue against this, emphasizing on the widespread ecological benefits of beavers. They increase biodiversity and reduce flood risk.
“[It] is a vital step in welcoming beavers back as a natural part of our ecosystem and a most welcome success as part of wider and continued efforts to protect and enhance our natural heritage,” Barbara Smith, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said.
Beavers were extinct in Britain for centuries until 2009, wherein the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland introduced 16 Eurasian beavers from Norway to Knapdale forest, Argyll and Bute.
“This is [a] historic day for Scotland and a milestone for the many of us who have worked together for years on the return of this species.”