Beaver numbers in Scotland more than double in three years, study shows

A beaver swimming
Support us and go ad-free

The number of beavers in Scotland has more than doubled in the last three years, according to a new study.

Bouncing back

NatureScot, the country’s public body for natural heritage, found about 1,000 of the animals now reside in territories which have also more than doubled to 251. The range of where these territories are has grown too, from Glen Isla to Dundee and Stirling, Forfar to Crianlarich – and likely to expand into Loch Lomond in the future.

Robbie Kernahan, NatureScot director of sustainable growth, said:

Wildlife is declining in Scotland so this extensive survey, which reveals an increasing beaver population, is great news for nature in Scotland.

Beavers play a vital role in creating and restoring wetlands where other species can thrive, reducing downstream flooding and improving water quality. We also hope that many people in Scotland will enjoy spotting these sometimes elusive, but fascinating, animals as they become more common.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Beavers are nature’s supreme water engineers, but we know they may cause severe problems in some areas, particularly for crops on prime agricultural land and for important infrastructure like road drains or railway lines.

This is reflected in the number of cases where mitigation measures were needed, such as fencing and flow devices or dam removal, as well as in the number of beavers which had to be trapped and moved or controlled under licence this past year.

Dam
A beaver dam found during the survey (Roisin Campbell-Palmer/PA)

Surveying the land

The survey was carried out last winter and is said to be the most comprehensive and authoritative survey of beaver numbers and their range ever conducted in Britain. Experienced surveyors searched for signs of beavers on foot and by canoe, finding 13,204 confirmed signs such as burrows, dams, lodges, scent mounds, canal digging, and tree and crop feeding.

NatureScot worked with Scotland’s “foremost beaver specialist” Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer and experts at the University of Exeter to conduct the survey.

Campbell-Palmer said:

Beavers are recognised as ecosystem engineers with important biodiversity benefits, though some impacts can be challenging alongside certain land-use practices.

This survey will hopefully provide valuable information to land managers and policy makers seeking to maximise the benefits and minimise the conflicts associated with the return of beavers to our rivers.

The full 2020-21 survey can be found online.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Expect BBC Scotland to produce news bulletins and programmes showing the ‘devastation’ these ‘vermin’ are ‘wreaking’. This will be accompanied by vox pops of splenetic farmers and landowners claiming livelihoods are being lost and demanding to be allowed to shoot them.

      Last year they did a report about a pair of beavers on the River Tay, which had started living on the river within the city of Perth. Local citizens generally seemed very happy to see them, but the BBC report issued dark warnings!!!!

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.