COURT action to stop the killing of wild beavers in Scotland will go ahead following a successful crowdfunding appeal.
Trees for Life have raised almost £60,000 – well above their £40,000 target – to fund a court challenge to the Scottish Government’s beaver policy.
Trees for Life and rewilding charity The Lifescape Project claim the government’s nature agency NatureScot is breaking the law by failing to make killing of beavers a last resort when the animals have unwanted impacts on agricultural land.
The crowdfunder closed on January 5 after donations from 1,500 supporters and backing from television presenter and naturalist Chris Packham, whose campaigning conservation group Wild Justice donated £5,000.
Steve Micklewright, chief executive of Trees for Life, said: “The support for our campaign to protect Scotland’s biodiversity-boosting, flood-preventing beavers has been amazing, and every donation is hugely appreciated.”
He added: “Public opinion clearly supports a more nature-friendly, climate-friendly and farmer-friendly approach to beaver management.”
Trees for Life say beavers’ dams create nature-rich and flood-reducing wetlands.
They claim that when beavers “sometimes also have unwanted local impacts on agricultural land”, existing laws require any intervention to have the least possible impact on their conservation.
After the Scottish Government declared beavers a legally protected species in May 2019, those wanting to kill beavers or remove their dams or lodges must obtain a licence from NatureScot.
Trees for Life say dozens of such licences have now been issued.
They add that a judicial review ruling in their favour would ensure lethal control is a genuine last resort.
Conservationists and others will be able to identify – with proper community engagement – suitable sites around Scotland to which beavers could be moved and be safe and welcome, they claim.
This could also help prevent damage to farmland, and ensure farmers are less often put in the position of having to shoot popular and endangered animals, according to the organisation.
Trees for Life is dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands. See treesforlife.org.uk.