Birds

Beaver poll begins

NatureScot will launch the most comprehensive and authoritative survey of beaver numbers and reach ever conducted in Scotland.

Work will begin October 1st to gather detailed and up-to-date information on the locations of active beaver areas and assess the health and distribution of the general population to inform future beaver work.

Beavers are believed to have spread from their original location on the Tay to the Forth and Clyde since an initial assessment in 2012.

The Nature Agency is asking the public for help by reporting their beaver sightings.

The survey will cover Tayside and the surrounding river basins, including the Forth and river systems in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. NatureScot will be working with experts from the University of Essex to conduct the survey this fall and winter.

Beaver, copyright Mark Hows, from the Surfbirds Galleries

This is the first survey since beavers became a European protected species in Scotland. It will investigate some areas where beaver sightings have recently been reported but not confirmed.

In the last survey in 2017, around 1,300 km of river and hole banks were measured. The new survey will cover an even larger area as beavers have been sighted as far as Loch Lomond and Glasgow in the west and Fife in the southeast.

Roo Campbell, NatureScot Project Leader, said: “Based on the sightings so far this year, beavers appear to be spreading even further in and around Tayside – a beaver has even been spotted west of Glasgow. This is wonderful news as beavers play an important role in creating habitats like ponds and wetlands where other species thrive, relieve flooding, and improve water quality.

“But beavers can sometimes cause problems, especially on prime agricultural land, which is mostly found in low-lying arable land, especially in the east of the country.

“We expect the beaver population to move from high-conflict areas where their release or escape was not authorized to more suitable habitats for them to thrive and enrich Scottish nature. In fact, this poll will tell us if this is already starting. “

Experienced beaver surveyors search for signs of beavers across the region on foot and by canoe.

The public can support this survey by reporting sightings of beavers and their standards using the Mammal Society’s Mammal Mapper app, available for both iPhone and Android, or online https://www.brc.ac.uk/mammals/recording.php

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