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Six beaver families for River Spey

Written by Fiona

December 05 2023

Six beaver families are set to be released on the River Spey in the Cairngorms.

NatureScot has announced the approval of a licence application from the Cairngorms National Park Authority to release the beavers at agreed sites in the upper River Spey catchment.

The decision aims to increase the range of beavers in Scotland, as set out as a priority in Scotland’s Beaver Strategy 2022-2045.

The approval marks the fifth catchment to which beavers have either been officially granted permission to remain or have been released. Populations are already established in Tayside, on the Forth, in Knapdale and Loch Lomond.

The application from the park authority was assessed by NatureScot in line with the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations, which considers a range of issues including site suitability and potential impacts on neighbouring land management and community interests.

A beaver in Scotland. Credit: Paul Stevenson/Flickr

NatureScot considers that establishing a new population in the River Spey will bring biodiversity and ecosystem benefits to the Cairngorms National Park and make a significant contribution to beaver restoration in Scotland.

Donald Fraser, NatureScot Head of Wildlife Management, said: “This decision marks a significant milestone for beaver restoration in Scotland, bringing this keystone species back to one of our biggest river catchments with huge potential for beavers to contribute to habitat restoration and biodiversity enhancement in the Cairngorms National Park.

“We also appreciate and understand both the support and legitimate concerns articulated by farmers and crofters through the consultation process.

“We are satisfied that the monitoring and mitigation plans set out by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, alongside our existing Beaver Mitigation Scheme, will sufficiently address any potential conflicts that may arise.”

The licence permits the release of up to six beaver families (pairs with dependent young) at the agreed sites in the first year. It also allows for future additional releases at other sites over the next five years up to a total of 15 beaver families. The beavers will undergo appropriate health screening before being released.

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