Scottish beavers causing problems on farmland sent to Yorkshire and Devon

A beaver released last year in the Forest of Dean, GloucestershireCredit:David Broadbent Photography It is thought as many as 240 beavers may have been culled in the Tayside area in recent years before the mammals were protected. SNH has revealed that licences and proposals for the translocation of up to 50 beavers are now underway.A spokesman said: “Twelve beavers have already been successfully translocated. Some of the beavers have been moved to Knapdale in Argyll while others have moved to England – Devon and Yorkshire – where they are to help with flood prevention and creating new habitats.”Beavers can create incredibly diverse and rich habitats, particularly wetlands. Under certain conditions, these changes may help regulate water flow, reduce flooding and sediments and improve water quality.“But this incredible ability of beavers to significantly change the environment they live in can occasionally cause problems on farmland, in forests and gardens and even occasionally to infrastructure such as roads and culverts.” The quango said it had also issued 29 licences to permit dam removal, with lethal control being used as a last resort. No beavers have been shot under licence since May 1.The SNH report estimates that the Tayside beavers live in over 100 active beaver territories.Denise Reed, the agency’s area manager, said it would work with landowners, farmers and managers to support those experiencing problems.She added: “Firstly, we can look at whether work can be done on the ground to minimise any problems. This includes measures such as installing specially designed water gates, beaver deterrent fencing, soft engineering on river banks, flood bank protection, piped dams and monitoring water levels in farm ditches. beaver damage “We are currently working on a range of these kinds of projects and increasing our understanding of how they can be applied more widely.” She said any lethal control would be carried out by individuals who have recied training.Beavers disappeared from Scotland in the 16th century, largely due to hunting. Dozens of beavers are to be moved from prime agricultural land in Scotland and relocated elsewhere in the UK, including Yorkshire and Devon.The large scale translocation was announced on Friday, one month after hundreds of feral beavers were given legal protection by the Scottish Government.There are currently estimated to be around 450 beavers in the wild in Scotland, the vast majority of them on Tayside where farmers have faced repeated problems as a result.There is also a much smaller population at Knapdale in Argyll, where a number of beavers were previously released in a trial reintroduction.The beavers in Perthshire and Angus escaped from captivity or were released illegally more than a decade ago and have since spread rapidly.Farmers have repeatedly complained that they have caused flooding by building dams in vital drainage ditches, felled trees on farmland and caused embankments to collapse.However, since May 1 they are no longer able to control the beavers and their lodges and dams, with Scottish Natural Heritage granting licences to shoot or move the animals. An Angus farmer surveying beaver damage on his landCredit:Stuart Nicol/Stuart Nicol Photography beaver Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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