Released to press on 21 March 2016
Scottish Government urged to 'stop procrastinating' and protect beavers
The Scottish Government has today announced that a decision on the future of Scotland’s beavers, which was due last year, will be further delayed until later this year. This follows revelations earlier this year that beavers were being culled indiscriminately as they have no legal protection. This included the killing of lactating beavers, which inevitably condemns her dependent kits to a slow death from dehydration and starvation.
“Interim protection measures” have also been announced to address this persecution. These are:
• Providing information on the beaver breeding season to further address issues regarding the harm of pregnant or lactating beavers with dependent young
• The possible use of Nature Conservation Orders, where evidence emerges that welfare concerns are being ignored
• Continuing to advise on mitigation and alternatives to lethal control wherever possible
• When there are no other practicable options, making information available on the most humane methods of lethal control.
Responding to the latest announcement, Harry Huyton, Director of OneKind Scotland said: “This weak response further delays a decision on the future of Scotland’s beavers until after the elections and will do little to protect them from continued persecution in the meantime.
"The revelations earlier this year that pregnant and lactating beavers were being killed and that inappropriate firearms and munitions were being used were shocking. They demanded an immediate and firm response, but instead the Scottish Government have merely offered further advice to land managers who are affected by the animals."
Mr Huyton added: "Intriguingly, however, the measures also threaten to use Nature Conservation Orders to protect beavers if evidence emerges that welfare concerns are being ignored.
"Our view is that clear evidence of welfare concerns has already emerged and we see no reason to wait for further inhumane culling until action is taken. We want to see full protection from persecution for all beavers in Scotland. In the meantime, if Nature Conservation Orders can be used to protect then during the imminent breeding season, then Government should stop procrastinating and introduce them immediately.”
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