Beaver to return after 400 years

BEAVERS ARE to be re- introduced into the rivers of Scotland - 400 years after the hefty, amphibious rodents were hunted to extinction.

But do not rush down to the river bank expecting to see them. Conscious of anglers' fears that the beavers' return could disrupt breeding patterns of fish, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is recommending a carefully controlled programme. It will be like a Truman Show for beavers. The animals will think they are at liberty but they will be under close observation. If there are problems, the whole colony could be scooped up and Scotland left beaver-free.

SNH believes that Scotland could ultimately support about 1,000 beavers, but none is likely to be released before 2002. Which river systems they are to be released into has not been decided.

Under a European Commission directive, the Government is required to consider the feasibility of restoring species threatened in Europe and extinct in Britain. Bringing back the wolf would be vehemently opposed by sheep farmers, even if it was thought feasible. The beaver, however, is a gentle vegetarian.

Even so, SNH, the Government's nature adviser north of the border, has moved cautiously, undertaking a thorough consultation exercise. Overall, 86 per cent of the nearly 2,000 respondents surveyed supported reintroduction of the beaver to the wild in Scotland, with 14 per cent against. Academics and conservationists were extremely keen, foresters and land managers lukewarm, and anglers and fish farmers mainly opposed.

Sandy Forgan, the president of the Scottish Anglers' National Federation, said that while anglers were "caring environmentalists" they had fears about the impact of beavers on migratory fish, notably sea trout and salmon.

Though the European beav- er is not an aggressive dam builder like its American cousin, it does build modest barriers if needed to keep the water level above the entrance to its lodge home. Anglers are concerned dams could impede the passage of fish upstream to their spawning grounds.

A spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund in Scotland said anglers' fears were "unfounded". The European beaver built only small dams and these could create pools of benefit to fish. "The salmon and beaver lived side-by-side for centuries and we don't see why the salmon should have any difficulty with being reunited with its old river neighbour."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas