Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is our future Scottish mammalian fauna set to improve?

Earlier this month the report from Scottish Natural Heritage, "Beavers in Scotland", was submitted to Scottish Government Ministers for consideration of its recommendations. The report summarizes over twenty years of work associated with the species, including the monitoring results from the reintroduction project at Knapdale in Argyll shire which has been in operation for five years. Of course the latter are not the only Beavers in Scotland  as there is a free living population of around 150 animals along the River Tay, which has been monitored by the Tay Beaver Group.

Apparently SNH have provided Ministers with four options ranging from complete removal to widespread reintroduction of the species in Scotland. Submitted on the 12th June the final decision(s) are awaited. As might be imagined there are those who are jumping with joy at the prospect and those with more negative reactions. It goes with the territory so to speak!  I certainly hope the outcome is supportive of the continuing presence of the animals, whether there are accompanying management aspects considered utterly necessary or not. Alongside attempts to maintain vulnerable populations of animals, e.g. Wildcat, work to re-establish previous members of our past fauna is an entirely laudable goal in my view, although we perhaps have to accept that there are various aspects of management that may have to be in place.  Such animals have usually been lost due to habitat destruction or outright persecution based on irrational prejudice.

For those of you who would like to see the Beavers associated with the Knapdale project a series of walks are being held again this summer. On each Tuesday from the 30th June to 25th August and similarly on Thursdays up to the 27th August you can attend a guided walk, hear about the project and hopefully see a Beaver too. There's a need to book, but simply ring 01546-603346 and take a look at the website too ( www.scottishbeavers.org.uk )

The declared policy intentions of the Scottish Nationalists Party relating to land tenure in Scotland are also of parallel interest. Whilst such might be a long time coming, hopefully such a change would embody a little less of the "playing God" with our wildlife heritage in many areas than occurs at present, be it the eradication of mustelids, the "control" of Mountain Hares or the continuing persecution of birds of prey !! Perhaps the future is not so bleak after all.