Survey of Tayside beavers begins this week

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Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has commissioned additional survey work to provide an up-to-date estimate of beaver family numbers in Tayside. The work begins this week.

This work follows from Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham’s decision in November that she was minded to allow beavers to remain in Tayside and Argyll and expand their range naturally. The survey will help develop management and mitigation measures.

SNH has designed the project and awarded the contract to an experienced team led by the University of Exeter, and involving specialists based in Scotland and England. SNH is also appealing to the public to record any sightings through the Mammal Tracker app available free from the iTunes App Store and Android Market. The survey will take place throughout spring 2017 and cover the beavers’ range in east-central Scotland. The work will update the earlier Tayside Beaver Study Group survey in the Tay catchment. The new survey will also provide the opportunity to investigate some areas, where beaver sightings have recently been reported but not confirmed. These include the River Devon, the Balvaig and Garbh Uisge upstream of Callander, the Forth in the Carse of Stirling and the Black Water around Brig O’Turk.

The fieldwork will involve walking the riverbank to look for field signs and evidence of breeding family groups. There may also be some water-based surveys working from canoes on the rivers; however, this will take place later in the spring when risk of spate conditions is reduced.

The University of Exeter-led survey team includes experience from across the UK, with Professor Richard Brazier, Chair of the Science and Evidence Forum for the River Otter and Mid-Devon Beaver trials, heading up the work. The project will be managed by Roisin Campbell-Palmer; one of Scotland’s most experienced beaver workers.

Within SNH, there is an experienced team of specialists who have worked on beaver ecology and management issues for many years (including producing the 2015 ‘Beavers in Scotland’ report), and who have the responsibility of designing the survey work, advising the survey team and ensuring the outputs meet the required needs.