Don’t mention the gnaw: Escaped German beavers thriving in Scotland

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SCOTLAND is being colonized by escaped German beavers – after the £2m official reintroduction of the animals proved a flop.

A new report from environment chiefs show a group of rogue Bavarian beavers, which most likely escaped from captivity, are thriving.

It was recently revealed that Norwegian beavers imported to Argyll under an official government trial would most likely not survive without outside help because their young were dying.

Beavers were hunted to extinction in Scotland 500 years ago but in 2006 a mysterious group of the animals was discovered in Tayside.

Genetic tests showed the escaped animals were from Germany and most likely Bavaria.

Genetic tests showed the beavers were from Germany, most likely Bavaria. Pic: Per Harald Olsen
Genetic tests showed the beavers were from Germany, most likely Bavaria. Pic: Per Harald Olsen

 

A new report from Scottish Natural Heritage says the rogue German beavers have been found to be “well adapted to living in Scotland”.

They are one of the largest species of rodent, and can weigh up to 30kg (66lbs).

In fact around 150 of the creatures were found to be living on the River Tay – with the only damage found on them most likely caused by fighting.

The report states: “All live-trapped animals were physically healthy, presented no obvious deformities, external parasites, discharge or obvious signs of disease.

A scientist monitors one of the Tayside beavers as it comes round following examination
A scientist monitors one of the Tayside beavers as it comes round following examination

 

“Two individuals had evidence of previous, healed wounds (on tail), indicative of beaver-inflicted injuries, most probably as a result of former territorial disputes, which is common and to be expected in this species.”

In 2012 the Scottish Government decided to allow the Tayside beavers to stay while they carried out an official reintroduction programme 100 miles away in Knapdale, Argyll.

The Government beavers were originally flown from Norway in custom built transportation creates.

They left the airport in Oslo, stopping in Frankfurt overnight before landing in London Heathrow.

They were placed in quarantine in Devon before travelling to Scotland ahead of their release.

But the results of the five year trial showed although 14 kits, or baby beavers, were born in the wild only one or two survived.

Meanwhile only half of the 16 adult beavers could be accounted for – three male beavers died while five of more of the animals were recorded as “missing”.

The report concluded that as the mortality levels for kits stand the beavers would not be able to establish a self sustaining population.

Eben Wilson from TaxpayerScotland said: “How ironic that grand designs by well-meaning public servants failed when God’s will and genius at natural reproduction succeeded.

“Perhaps interfering environmentalists should remember that using our taxes to design our natural world may not be worthwhile.”

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