Thursday, May 28, 2009

Salmon Fishing Scotland Reintroduction of Beavers in Scotland.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Reintroduction of Beavers in Scotland.

Board against beavers’ return

AS THE final preparations for the re-introduction of beavers to the Scottish countryside get under way, the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board has warned the animals could damage the country’s salmon stocks.

Although beavers are vegetarian, their dams could prevent some migratory fish from reaching the areas where they spawn.

The Scottish Beaver Trial, a six-year project to re-introduce the creatures to the countryside after they were hunted to extinction in the 16th century, will soon be releasing a family of beavers into the wild at Knapdale in Argyll.

It has been run in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) but salmon farmers and fishers believe the move could spell catastrophe for the salmon population.

David Summers, fisheries director of the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, said, “We are obviously concerned as well in that the damming of streams does have the potential to block the passage of salmon and sea trout to spawning areas and we would want to see this studied adequately during the beaver trials.

“And, at the end of the day, if the trial is deemed to be successful, we would want to maintain the right to remove problem dams.

“I think that would have to be essential.” Mr Summers said that salmon in the Tay would not be as affected as fish elsewhere in Scotland and although there are few such fish in the Knapdale area, the beaver population can expand rapidly.

“The beaver can impact the movement of fish up streams but one of the fortunate things about the Tay is a lot of its smaller streams are impossible to swim for salmon because of things like waterfall, so it is not quite as big a problem as it will be elsewhere,” he said.

“Most of the salmon are produced in streams that are undammable but there are places where it could happen, therefore we don’t think beavers should be re-introduced to Scotland without adequate management provisions.”

Meanwhile, the Salmon and Trout Association, Britain’s leading gamefish conservation body, has said a new report on the impact of beavers on salmon in Prince Edward Island in east Canada proves conclusively that dams can have a damaging effect on salmon.

Executive director Paul Knight said, “This report is unequivocal in its conclusions and it should be required reading for those who have granted the Knapdale beaver licence.

“While the American beaver is a different species to its European cousin, both species share a propensity for dam building whenever the available habitat is not to their liking.

“Beaver dams are, of course, the problem and on either side of the Atlantic they can amount to insurmountable obstacles to migrating salmon, sea trout and brown trout, particularly when, as is normally the case, there is little depth of water below the dam.”

Nick Yonge, director of the Tweed Foundation, which has campaigned against the Knapdale release, added, “The Prince Edward Island report underlines how stupid it would be to introduce beavers to Britain.

“Introducing animals that make major changes to our countryside is only acceptable where those changes can be contained effectively to specific areas.

“The evidence from countries where beavers have been introduced is that they cannot be contained and that they would cause harm to our native fish stocks by building dams.”

However, Perthshire landowner Paul Ramsay, who has two beaver families living on his estate at Bamff House near Alyth, said their fears are unfounded.

“As far as salmon are concerned, a large proportion spawn at levels below where beavers will be building dams,” he said, and if there are problems, they can be circumvented by putting holes in dams on rivers they expect fish to swim up.

Mr Ramsay, whose beavers lived in a fenced-off area, said the threat to fish had been “greatly exaggerated” and that dams can not only help purify but also attract other forms of wildlife to an area.

“I think it is a wonderful thing to reintroduce to beavers but like anything it must be done sensibly.”

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Anonymous said...

I like a well-groomed BEAVER.

Stumpy Boater

Anonymous said...

beaver curry; bring them on!!!!!!!

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