Beavers could soon be moving into Badenoch and Strathspey
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Beavers could be reintroduced into parts of Badenoch and Strathspey as soon as next year, it has emerged.
Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) members have agreed to take a lead role in bringing back Eurasian beavers to the region to restore the ‘lost’ species.
Eurasian beavers now have European Protected Species status and the Scottish Government is supporting translocations to establish colonies outside of their current range.
The CNPA agreed at its latest board meeting to taking a lead role in returning them to suitable locations with the national park.
One member, Judith Webb, did acknowledge the move will raise concerns with many people within the park, despite it now being official Scottish Government policy.
The board members agreed that it was better for the CNPA to have control of the process than for ad hoc introductions of beavers by individual landowners and other bodies.
Dr Sarah Henshall, the park authority’s head of conservation, told the meeting: “We fully expect that there will be applications to release beaver in the national park as soon as practicably possible.
“Applications could come directly from landowners or managers within the park or by organisations acting as lead agents with the permission of landowners.
“We are in a situation where the national beaver strategy is going to facilitate action very quickly and we would like to make a decision in terms of what our role should be so we can be prepared and forewarned.”
Andy Ford, the CNPA’s director of nature and climate change, said the first Eurasian beavers would be unlikely to be ‘any sooner than 2023’ and this would only be after a full and comprehensive consultation.
NatureScot is to identify two or three priority strategic areas for beaver expansion in Scotland before the end of this month and the River Spey catchment area is one of the leading candidates.
A spokesperson for the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group said: “We welcome the Park Authority taking the lead on this.
"The authority is well placed to ensure a joined up and well-informed approach, which of course matters here in the Cairngorms where we can boast some very rare wildlife associated with trees such as aspen.”
The beavers will have to be moved from current colonies. Recent research found that current populations would be highly unlikely to colonise the national park any time soon due to physical and nature barriers.
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