In late November, a beaver family was spared a death sentence and relocated to my farm at Argaty, near Doune. This was a first for Scotland – never before had beavers destined for a bullet due to their impact on prime agricultural land, been moved to a new part of our country instead. After years of impasse, the campaign to secure a better fate for Scotland’s beavers has turned a corner. The future looks bright, but human-beaver politics means that major issues remain unresolved.
"Hundreds of people were in favour, and just five landowners opposed the idea."
In January 2021, I began a consultation to establish public appetite for the idea of translocating beavers to ponds on Argaty. Beavers are ecosystem engineers. Their wetlands boost animal and plant numbers, their dams trap sediment and purify water. I was desperate to spare them from being culled and bring their skills to our Perthshire farm.
Each of the animals would come from areas of Tayside where, because beavers can have unwanted impacts on farmland, NatureScot – the Scottish Government’s nature agency – had issued beaver-killing licences to landowners. The results of our consultation – submitted to NatureScot in June – were overwhelming. Support for moving beavers ahead of killing them was near unanimous. Hundreds of people were in favour, and just five landowners opposed the idea.
After much deliberation, NatureScot finally approved the application and on 29 November, the first beaver family arrived at Argaty. In the coming months, another family and one adult pair will also be moved to ponds on the farm.