The introduction of beavers in Britain is a real conservation success story. However, in Scotland, beavers now lie at the heart of a rewilding debate. Back in 2009, there was a controlled release of beavers in Scotland, but prior to this, an unauthorised release occurred. This led to farmers becoming increasingly unhappy about the impact of beavers on agricultural land.
The charity Trees for Life brought a legal case against Scotland’s nature conservation agency – NatureScot as licences were granted to farmers allowing the culling of some beavers. 87 animals were culled in 2019 which equated to 1/5 of the population. With the drive to reintroduce other species such as Lynx, this is an important test case.
For those campaigning to protect beaver populations, the argument is clear, lethal licenses are not necessary. Instead, farmers may need to come to terms with beavers and adapt working processes. With the drive to seek greater biodiversity and to restore nature, this is likely to happen anyway. A cull should only occur when all resorts have been exhausted and this includes relocation.
Rewilding of species is a step towards a healthier and more natural ecological system and so, the outcome of this case is of the utmost importance.