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Scottish Beavers Declared a Protected Species


On 1 May beavers received legal protection in Scotland as a European protected species, meaning lethal control can only be carried out under licence.  

In 2009 there was a trial reintroduction of Eurasian Beavers in Scotland, following a period of around 400 years of extinction. The trial took place in Knapdale, however, beavers were also released in the River Tay. In 2017 the Scottish Government gave beavers official status as a British Native Species, meaning they were allowed to remain and expand their habitat naturally. You can read more about this and the current rights afforded to land owners to take action to manage beavers in our 2017 blog post.

The reintroduction of beavers has been somewhat controversial. There is now a significant and growing population of around 500. Whilst research shows the animals will bring many ecological benefits, beaver activity like burying and foraging, as well as the potential for dams to cause flooding, can cause damage to surrounding farmland and riverbanks. There have also been reports of salmon stocks being negatively affected. All of this can come at considerable cost to affected landowners and the agriculture industry.

Under the new licencing scheme, licences will be controlled by Scottish Natural Heritage and will be required to enable lethal control, trap and relocate beavers, destroy lodges or chambered burrows or to remove or manipulate dams more than two weeks old. Simple management techniques – like discouraging dam building (e.g. through fencing), removing dams less than two weeks old, or notching won’t need to be licensed. Detailed guidance can be found in the Management Framework for Beavers in Scotland.

If you have any questions about beaver control or any other matter, please contact a member of the Land and Rural Business team.

About the author

Lesley Mearns
Lesley Mearns

Lesley Mearns


Land & Rural Business

For more information, contact Lesley Mearns or any member of the Land & Rural Business team on +44 1738 472759.