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Scottish Wildlife Trust licensed to bring back beavers to Scotland

The Scottish Government announced on Sunday (25th May) that it had approved the application by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) to bring back beavers to Scotland. Both organisations are members of Wild Scotland through SWT’s visitor centres at Loch of the Lowes, Montrose Basin and Falls of Clyde and RZSS’s Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie.

Conditional approval was granted for up to four beaver families to be reintroduced on a trial basis, after six months quarantine, to Knapdale, mid-Argyll in spring 2009.

Allan Bantick, Chair of the Scottish Beaver Trial Steering Group said: “This is a historic moment for wildlife conservation. The Scottish Government has now given the go ahead for the first-ever formal reintroduction of a native mammal into the wild in the UK. Beavers have been extinct in Scotland for over 400 years and they are well known for their positive impact on habitats and conditions for other species. By bringing these useful creatures back to their native environment we will have the chance to restore a missing part of our wetland ecosystems and re-establish much needed natural processes.”

As Simon Milne, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust continues, the challenge now is for the licence holders to fundraise for the project: “Our next steps will be to look carefully at any conditions imposed by the licence and to raise funds for this very exciting five-year venture. This is the chance for individuals and businesses to really play an active role in this ground-breaking project by helping to fund the Scottish Beaver Trial.”

Those interested in supporting the project can donate over the phone or on line by contacting one of the project partners:
Scottish Wildlife Trust                            Tel: 0131 312 7765 or www.swt.org.uk
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland     Tel: 0131 314 0309

In December 2007, following the publication of the results of a two-month long consultation that revealed over 73% of respondents from Mid-Argyll supported a trial reintroduction of beavers to Knapdale, Mid-Argyll, SWT and RZSS as lead partners in the Scottish Beaver Trial, jointly submitted a licence application. The Scottish Beaver Trial will now be actively seeking funding to support the project with the aim of beavers being captured in family groups in Norway in autumn before undertaking six months quarantine prior to release in spring 2009.

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