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Response to the Government’s Non Decision on the Legal Protection of Beavers

After an immensely long wait the Scottish Government made an announcement on the 23rd March 2016 regarding the legal protection of beavers. The decision was essential a decision not to decide until the autumn but to discourage farmers from killing beavers during the breeding season by the use of existing legislation.    You can read it here.  http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Scottish-beaver-update-249c.aspx

This is how we feel about it:

“SWBG expresses its profound disappointment at the announcement made by the Scottish Government regarding the protection of beavers. This timid, toothless compromise will satisfy neither conservationists nor farmers, both of whom need clarity on this issue after years of uncertainty. Until full legal protection is in place it will be impossible to move forward and establish a sensible protocol for management of this important species, whose valuable ecosystem services, including the mitigation of flooding, have been comprehensively proven by the recent publication of scientific studies carried out in the Scotland and England.

We hope that the Environment Minister after the May election will understand the extreme urgency of meeting our obligations under the EU Habitats Directive, to provide full protection to the native species Castor fiber in Scotland. And in the meantime we hope that farmers will refrain from killing any more beavers, especially during the breeding season. The concerns of farmers, while legitimate in certain cases, have to be examined in the relation to wider agricultural policy and practice, soil conservation, water purity, the conservation of riparian woodland and in the light of climate change. Full assessment should be made of the potential for mitigation to enable beavers and farmers to coexist without conflict in some places. A legal framework to enable the careful relocation of beavers out of conflict zones is also long overdue.”

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