Scottish Beaver Reintroduction

This is quick look at the progress of beaver reintroduction.  I do not believe that the European beaver was anything like as effective as the north American version which masters the boreal forest.

In the event the benefits of beavers in terms of terraforming river bottoms are ample and clear.  They do what mankind would have to undertake in order to optimize the river ecology.  They created many of the flat fields that facilitated initial farming.  Soils are naturally impounded and stabilized.

Of course this is part of a program that extends across Europe and is obviously been strongly pursued.  What no one quite understands is that these animals will expand quickly to become a management nuisance as they get around to flooding out fields and roads.

Of course they love the boreal forest and will quickly spread right across Russia.  Even if it takes a thousand years, they are surely coming.

At present, they are busily escaping Tierra Del Fuego by swimming across short straits with no apparent difficulty. With no enemies their population is exploding.  To some degree that is plausible throughout most of northern Europe.

With the beaver, the real wilderness will plausibly return.

Recently released Scottish beaver dies - 2 more released

4 pairs of beavers now living in the wild in Scotland

June 2010. Two more beavers have been released in Knapdale Forest in Mid-Argyll, as part of the five-year Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT). The male and female, which were captured in Norway, bring the number of resident wild beavers in Scotland to nine.

The pair was released following permission granted by the Scottish Government on 10 June 2010, allowing additional beavers to replace or supplement family groups to work towards ensuring a core population of four breeding beaver pairs is established in the first two years of the Trial. This pair replaces the third family group, one adult and one juvenile female which dispersed from the Trial site last year (June 2009) and a male from the same group that was permanently removed from the Trial due to an underlying heart condition.

The Trial, which is a partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust aims to determine how beavers will prosper in Scottish habitats and to assess their effect on the current Scottish environment by monitoring them over the five-year trial period.
Boost for the trial

Roisin Campbell-Palmer, RZSS Project Leader said: "These two new beavers will provide an important boost to the current Scottish trial population and as this is a trial, it is important that we gain as much information as we can from them while they are in the wild to inform the eventual decision made by the Scottish Government as to whether beavers become a permanent feature of the Scottish landscape.

"We've done our best to minimize any stress to these animals during their release and we now hope that they will settle into their new home very quickly."

Simon Jones, SBT Project Manager, said: "This is the fifth group of beavers to be released as part of this project and what is really exciting is that nearly a year into the Trial , we are now seeing many signs of positive beaver activity. Indeed, they are doing exactly what we had hoped these industrious creatures would do.

Beaver released in May found dead

The male beaver that was released at the beginning of May was found dead in his lodge 3 weeks later. The project team has now received the results of the post mortem carried out on the male, but there were no significant findings. The beaver is believed to have failed to adapt to the local diet following the change in his surroundings. The beaver was found to be in poor body condition resulting from a lack of food in his digestive system.

Beaver dies in captivity

The post mortem carried out on the former Trial beaver, Andreas Bjorn (who was removed and placed in captivity due to an underlying heart condition and subsequently died at Edinburgh Zoo on 26 May) confirmed this was a result of heart failure.

Dam has doubled pool size

"The Dubh Loch site, home to a family of three beavers, provides us with a great example of beavers at work. Having now almost doubled in size due to flooding created by their dam building, the increase in aquatic habitat is allowing natural wildlife to thrive, which has been stunning to observe. In time we hope our new pair will have an equally positive effect."

Prior to release, the beavers underwent an in-depth health assessment to ensure they were free of disease. They have complied with all the necessary importation checks and a Government veterinary risk-assessed period of quarantine. After additional vet examinations on the morning of the release, the beavers were declared fit and were transported from Edinburgh and released into the wild.
Third release

This addition to the Scottish beaver population follows a first release of three families in May 2009 and, more recently, a further release of a male and female beaver pair on 4 May 2010. Following the dispersal of one family and an unfortunate death within another beaver pair, the new additions are necessary to bolster the Trial's beaver population.
Jones explained: "To allow our Trial to provide results to inform decisions about the impact a wider beaver reintroduction might have on Scotland's environment, it is essential that we create the most natural conditions possible for our wild beavers. This includes developing a viable breeding population which we feel can be done by establishing four breeding pairs in Knapdale.

"Learning from the experience of over 25 European countries which have already reintroduced beavers, the ‘bedding-in' period we are experiencing in the early stages of our Trial is not uncommon."

In 2009 the Scottish Beaver Trial released 3 families into the Knapdale area. Not long afterwards, shots were heard and 1 adult female beaver went missing from the Creag Mor family. Subsequent to this, the juvenile female from this family went missing, and more recently the male has been taken back into captivity as he was evidently deteriorating. He has since died in captivity.
The Loch Linne family also suffered, as the juvenile male died shortly after release and the juvenile female has now also disappeared. This pair have show signs of breeding this spring.

The Loch Coille Bhar family are apparently thriving and the female is showing some signs of pregnancy.

A fourth pair of beavers were released in May. One of these beavers has died.

Artificial lodges

Prior to the release, two artificial lodges were created by the project team to provide temporary shelter until the pair can build a lodge of their own. Food and used bedding will be placed in these lodges to encourage them to settle in this new loch and make it their home.
Over the course of the Trial, all beavers will be tracked closely by the project team. The Scottish Beaver Trial could determine whether or not beavers are reintroduced into the wild across Scotland.
Hunted to extinction in the UK

Beavers are a native species to the
UK and were once a common sight before they were hunted to extinction by man. Beavers are known as a keystone species and bring many benefits to wetland environments and improve habitats for many other animals including invertebrates, birds and otters.

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