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Beaver capture now complete

The Scottish Beaver Trial is one step closer to the UK’s first native mammal reintroduction when four beaver families arrived in Heathrow last night. The beavers, originally from Telemark in Norway, will now spend six months in quarantine before being released in Knapdale, mid-Argyll on a time-limited trial basis in spring 2009.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), project partners for the Scottish Beaver Trial, enlisted the help of a specialist team to assist them with the capture of the beaver families from the Telemark region of Norway in September.  

For the last two months, the team has been capturing the beaver families, each consisting of one adult male, one adult female and between one to three yearlings or kits.  Tracking the beavers and ensuring they were in the correct family groups was an important part of the process.

Iain Valentine, Head of Animals, Conservation & Education for RZSS, explains: “The capture of the beaver families was a complicated process because we wanted to ensure that existing beaver families, which included yearlings and kits, were captured together.  Luckily beavers are territorial so families can be tracked within the areas they inhabit.  

The team in Norway spent long periods of time in specific sites to identify complete family groups, ensuring that none are left behind. Another added complication was that beavers are primarily active at night so the beaver families were tracked from boats patrolling the river and caught in the dark. The team in Norway did a fantastic job and all the beavers are in excellent health.

We would like to thank our partners in Norway, from the University College Telemark and in particular Frank Rosell and his team for the work that they have put in to catching the beavers for us and to the Norwegian Government for allowing the beavers to be captured and transported from their country to Scotland.”

Once released, the project partners and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) will continue to manage the project with Scottish Natural Heritage conducting scientific monitoring on the impact of the beavers.

Simon Jones, Project Manager for the Scottish Beaver Trial, said: “Beavers are native to Britain but were hunted to extinction over 400 years ago. Beavers hold the potential to create new wetland habitats which in turn increases the appeal to other native species.  We are excited to get the trial underway and really see what benefits beavers can bring to Scotland.”    

Minister for Environment Michael Russell added: “This is the latest stage in a truly exciting development for wildlife watchers, not just in Scotland, but around the world. I am sure the beavers are awaiting their release from quarantine and into Knapdale as keenly as I am. Once again I would commend RZSS and SWT for leading such an important project.”

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