A QUARTER of Scotland’s beavers could be “shipped to England” as Nature Scots plans to export up to 112 of the dam-building creatures south of the border, new statistics have revealed.

The Scottish Government declared beavers as a protected species, but the Nature Scot agency has since allowed one fifth of the population to be killed in 2019.

Parliamentary records have now revealed that Nature Scot is planning a wholesale export of up to 112 beavers to England, some of which are being held in a holding facility before they can be reunited with their families south of the border.

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Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed to Scottish Greens’ environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell that “requests for the supply of beavers to populate projects in England and Wales do not routinely come directly to Nature Scot”.

But she added that “Nature Scot works in collaboration with a beaver consultant and with Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.”

Ms Cunningham confirmed that 16 different projects have earmarked up to 112 Scottish beavers to be shipped south of the border and have “been granted release licences from Natural England with Nature Scot agreeing that animals can be sourced from Tayside”.

Mr Ruskell said: “While exile is better than execution, this bizarre situation is what happens when a government wants to simultaneously protect and eradicate an animal from our country.

“The fact is there are farmers and nature reserves in Scotland who would welcome beaver populations. Instead we are exporting these creatures en masse. Beavers are native to Scotland, we should be translocating them across the country so we can build a healthy population here.

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"Translocated beavers could bring eco-tourism to new areas of Scotland, while restoring the nature rich wetlands we need to protect against floods. Beavers are nature’s expert engineers, they are needed at home in Scotland and shouldn’t be shot or shipped to England.”

Nature Scot has disputed the 112 figure, insisting that only a handful of the animals have been trapped and shipped south of the border this year.

Between 25 August and 5 September this year, 16 beavers were trapped in Tayside under licence from Nature Scot. One animal was re-released locally, 11have been released in England, and four are currently at a holding facility until trapping of the family group is completed. Following this, the families will be moved to another release project in England.

A Nature Scot spokeswoman said: “We continue to work with partners on a range of measures – including mitigation, trapping and translocation - to lessen the impact beavers are having and reduce the need for control measures.

“In 2019, 19 beavers were trapped and translocated to Knapdale and England. This year, in response to concerns expressed by some members of the Scottish Beaver Forum and others regarding the level of lethal control of beavers in 2019, we are putting even greater effort into trapping animals for translocation and moving them to conservation projects in England.

"The quoted figure of 112 is incorrect. Since trapping started in August a total of 15 beavers have been successfully trapped and translocated.

“We continue to look into opportunities for conservation translocations within and on the edge of beavers’ existing range in the Tay and Forth catchments. These must be carefully planned, and local stakeholders consulted, as part of the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations.”


The Scottish Wildlife Trust has welcomed beavers being moved in order to reduce the liklihood of the animals being culled but has claimed there are other parts of Scotland that the creatures could be sent.

Sarah Robinson, director of conservation at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “We welcome movement of beavers away from high conflict areas in Tayside to support trial reintroductions. This will help beavers become established in other areas, contribute to a thriving population throughout Britain and reduce the need for lethal control.  

“However, it is disappointing that more than a year after beavers were given protected species status here in Scotland, the only locations that they can currently be moved to are in England."

She added: "While beavers are slowly expanding their range from Tayside into new territories, giving them a helping hand could make an important contribution to reversing biodiversity loss at the pace required to deal with the crisis facing nature.  

“Huge areas of Scotland could support beavers with little conflict, creating substantial benefits for both wildlife and people. We believe the Scottish Government should allow releases into other parts of Scotland in the near future, as part of a forward-looking strategy for the species.”