Scottish Government makes u-turn on beaver shooting & now supports translocations

Further to the blog posted on 22nd October 2021 about Scottish charity Trees For Life‘s successful judicial review challenge against the shooting of beavers and the potential consequences of that ruling on the ‘control’ of other protected species such as birds of prey (here), today the Scottish Government has made a complete u-turn and has announced it now supports translocation (of beavers) over lethal control.

This is a massive and hard-won result for all those campaigners who have spent considerable time and effort over a number of years to force a change of policy. Brilliant work, well done to all of them!

[Photo by Scotland The Big Picture]

Here is a press release from Trees For Life (24th November 2021)

Breakthrough for Scotland’s beavers a win for nature, climate and farmers

The Scottish Government today announced a new approach to actively expand Scotland’s beaver population, through more use of translocation to new areas of Scotland outside of beavers’ current range rather than lethal control to deal with negative beaver impacts.

Responding to the announcement, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive Steve Micklewright said: “This is a rewilding win for Scotland’s wildlife, climate and farmers. After almost half a millennium, the country is set to welcome beavers back properly at last.

“Allowing these habitat-creating, biodiversity-boosting, flood-preventing animals to be relocated across Scotland – to where they are needed and wanted, away from prime agricultural land, and in a way that works for farmers – offers hope for tackling the nature and climate emergencies.

“It’s a wonderful result 16 months to the day that we launched our campaign for Scotland’s beavers, which has seen almost 17,000 people sign the most successful petition to the Scottish Parliament in over a decade, our successful court case in which a senior judge ruled that NatureScot’s beaver-killing licences have been unlawfully issued, and 66% of Scots say they back relocation not killing of beavers.”

Trees for Life says ministers now need to lay out clearly that the Government and NatureScot will ensure proper support for farms and communities wanting to reintroduce beavers to new sites of suitable habitat – including through a simplified process that doesn’t tangle applications up in needless red tape. The Government should ensure practical and financial support for farmers – including a beaver relocation service, and access to timely and efficient advice and resources.

The Government’s announcement comes days before the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee is due on 30 November to consider Trees for Life’s petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for the Government to relocate rather than shoot beavers.

The Government’s previous refusal to allow beavers to be relocated to new areas of Scotland, even though NatureScot has identified over 100,000 hectares of habitat, had left Tayside farmers whose crops are damaged by beavers with little option but to apply for a culling licence. 

Since the Government legally protected beavers in 2019, its nature agency NatureScot has allowed over 200 beavers to be killed under license – despite laws under which beavers are a protected species which should not be killed unless there is no satisfactory alternative. 

NatureScot’s failure to make licensed killing of beavers a last resort was challenged by Trees for Life’s judicial review, heard by the Court of Session in June. The charity’s crowdfunder for the case was supported by over 1,500 people and raised over £60,000. Lady Carmichael ruled that NatureScot had ‘erred in law’ when issuing licences authorising the deaths of over 200 beavers.

Beavers create wetlands that benefit other wildlife, soak up carbon dioxide, purify water and reduce flooding, but the animals sometimes need managing if they cause damage to farmland.

Trees for Life is dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands. See

For the Scottish Government’s announcement, see


13 thoughts on “Scottish Government makes u-turn on beaver shooting & now supports translocations”

  1. Look at the tragic fate of Badgers who are still a protected species, yet have needlessly been murdered in their tens of thousands in order to pacify farmers. Slapping protected status on an animal seems meaningless in this country, if any group can claim harm and then set about killing them.

    1. Hence why Wild Justice keep challenging the licences, their terms, the monitoring and the species covered. It is also why the wildlife killers and their propagandists keep misrepresenting their purpose and activity.

  2. What excellent news! Clearly, a brilliant campaign by Trees-for-Life. But why should it have been such hard work, in the first place? Big ‘ups’ to Lady Carmichael…

  3. The “shoot first and ask questions later” culture is still, very sadly, alive and well in the scottish countryside. I was told by a farmers son [and pillar of the local community] that the reason we dont have lapwings anymore is all down to badgers…nothing to do with intensification of agriculture..completely in denial….on this present story however I am a bit alarmed by the acceptance of “translocation” as an answer. Isnt that exactly what the grouse estates used to ask us for with regard to peregrines?…cant the Tayside farms alter their management to fit in with beavers?

    1. Aye, there needs to be an investigation into the claims these farmers have been making on the lower Tay, they should never have been taken at face value. One who claimed he spent five grand clearing dams (receipts please?) actually got £146,000 in subsidy from the taxpayer that year including twenty five thousand for ‘environmental’ work. One farmer applied for a licence to kill beaver because he said they frightened his cows, and the Scottish Wild Beaver Network did sterling work promoting mitigation projects such as beaver deceivers to the farming community, the response from them was apparently pathetic. A shotgun is so much less work I suppose and requires fewer brain cells in the use of. We shouldn’t forget that when it first went public that there was a pretty substantial population of beavers on the Tay the SGA, with typical community spirit (note: sarcasm), volunteered to have its members kill them all.

      And in very many cases the real damage came from the farms which were in conflict because they went right up to the river’s edge which is not only bad for wildlife, but allows soil and farm chemicals to go straight into the water plus it exacerbates flooding – if you think you have a problem because the corner of your tattie field gets soggy what would it be like getting your living room flooded? This video is just about the best pro beaver one there is and it doesn’t mention them once. Create a buffer zone and the vast majority of supposed conflict between beavers and farming would be avoided in the first place –

  4. Great news and well done TfL! I would also like to say that Tom Bowser of Argaty Red Kites should get a huge thank you too. His persistence in the face of tremendous obstacles from people who should have been supporting his efforts to get beavers translocated to his farm – which is on the edge of their current wild range which even Scotgov said was acceptable – was exemplary. His getting the first historic licence for that, must have been one of the factors in today’s announcement. We need tens of thousands of beavers to alleviate flooding, we should NEVER have been killing them and in fact should have been bringing in beavers from other European populations under quarantine. The Revive conference took place in Perth the Scottish city with the highest flood risk. How many places are there in the watershed including grouse moors where tree planting and beavers could lower that?

  5. Well done trees for life, socking & shameful do many have been killed. The restablishment of beavers in the CC national park should be a priority for the park authority with locations like the insh marshes crying out or them.

    1. Exactly, the RSPB actually has to do scrub clearance at Insh Marshes to help preserve breeding habitat for waders including curlew. Can you imagine how well it would go down with the grouse moor estates if the beaver can be shown to be helping curlew!?! It’ll be a rerun of pine martens being good for grey squirrels again, they’ll absolutely hate it. Supposedly there’s a railway line near Insh Marshes and someone has said there’s issues with beavers potentially undermining it, but that might be utter crap. I had fun the other day thinking which RSPB reserves in Scotland could take beavers. A lot I think – Vane Farm, Loch of Strathbeg, Abbott’s Heugh, Inversnaid…..A very large proportion of the 200 plus beavers killed could have went to them instead, really sickening.

  6. Will head(s) roll at NatureScot for those who “erred in law”? Will the Scottish Government give NatureScot the kick in the pants that it so badly needs?

  7. Heavy fines & even jail sentences should be issued to any nasty boors who shoot beavers. The case in 2019 of a female shot in chest when carrying young was an example which should never be repeated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s