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 Minister urged to halt spread of beavers

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David Harvey

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PostSubject: Minister urged to halt spread of beavers   Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:27 pm

Minister urged to halt spread of beavers carrying lethal parasites

The Angling Trust has today written to Fisheries and Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon urging him to authorise the trapping and lethal control of beavers to halt their spread into England from Scotland following the failure of the Scottish government to contain populations within a number of trial release sites. This might involve applying to the European Commission for an exemption to the beaver’s European Protected Status to allow them to be controlled and their dams to be dismantled, which has been done in other member states.

Anglers throughout the UK reacted with concern to the announcement that the Scottish Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, has blocked the conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), from carrying out trapping and euthanasia of hundreds of beavers which have been released into the River Tay catchment. These animals were almost certainly released illegally into the wild by beaver enthusiasts and have already spread throughout Perthshire and Angus and it is only a matter of time before they spread into England and Wales.

Anglers are particularly worried because beavers create dams across streams and rivers which can prevent coarse and game fish migrating up and downstream to complete their lifecycles. Many fish stocks in the UK are already suffering as a result of agricultural and sewage pollution, over-abstraction, weirs and dams and other habitat damage, invasive non-native species, poaching and predation. To make matters worse, beavers may enjoy European Protected Status, which means that they, or the dams they build by felling trees into rivers, cannot be interfered with without a licence. This will prevent anyone removing problem beavers or dams.

There are also grave concerns following the discovery that the Scottish beavers may be carrying Echinococcus multilocularis, a tapeworm that can be transferred to foxes, dogs and people. It causes a number of human fatalities each year in countries in which it is present, which do not currently include the UK. Aveolar echinococcosis can take between 10 and 15 years to be diagnosed, by which time it has caused so much damage to the liver that 90% of patients die. In Switzerland, a far smaller country with far fewer foxes, the human death toll is between 20 and 30 cases a year.

Other concerns about the spread of beavers include the potential for increasing flood risk and the felling of garden and suburban trees. An adult beaver can bring down a 10 inch wide tree in under an hour, and a single beaver family will fell up to 300 trees a year. In the upper Danube region of Germany, beavers have caused £5 million of damage and they are now being culled.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: “we believe that the Scottish Government has failed in its duty to protect the whole of the UK by allowing this situation to develop. These illegal releases should never have happened, and when they did, a rapid decision should have been taken to eradicate the animals from the wild. A series of blunders has led us to a situation where beavers might spread throughout the country, damming rivers, blocking access to spawning areas, felling trees and infecting other wildlife and people with lethal tapeworms. We urge the Westminster government to take decisive action urgently to stop beavers spreading into England.�

ENDS

Contact: Mark Lloyd, 07973 468198, mark.lloyd@anglingtrust.net

Notes to Editors:
The Angling Trust is the representative body for all anglers in England. Its legal arm, Fish Legal, takes legal action against anyone causing damage to fisheries on behalf of its members throughout the UK.

In their letter to Mr Benyon the Angling Trust said:

Dear Mr Benyon,

I'm writing to you on behalf of the Angling Trust, as the representative body for anglers in England, to seek clarification from the government on your policy towards the re-introduction of the beaver which has been promoted by Natural England and a number of other wildlife organisations. This follows recent reports from Scotland where it seems that up to 100 wild beavers will be allowed to roam freely after Scottish ministers blocked plans to capture them. Quite clearly there will be nothing to stop the beavers moving south and into England with the potential to create damage to our river systems and spread diseases and potentially lethal parasites.

The Scottish decision, made by Scotland’s environment minister Stewart Stevenson, was to suspend the trapping of escaped beavers and to review the position in 2015, when an official beaver release project on the Kintyre peninsula in Argyll, which has cost several millions of pounds, is scheduled to end. This in our view is an admission of failure by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and we are now concerned at the consequences for fish and fisheries in England for which you have responsibility.

According to press reports:
"The trapping project follows a series of escapes by beavers living in private collections in the Tayside area, in breach of wildlife legislation and international conservation guidelines. Some sources believe the animals were deliberately released and suspect they have spread across the north and west into the Grampian mountains. SNH originally estimated only 20 beavers were at large, but conservationists and private collectors predicted there were at least 50 living wild by late 2010. Landowners believe the animals have spread to the Tweed in the Borders and could eventually reach northern England.
"The conservation agency now admits there are some 100 wild beavers on Tayside, and has warned ministers its trapping project would not succeed and was becoming very expensive. SNH said the government could instead choose to suspend the trapping pending a review, order a cull using lethal force or admit officially the animals were back in the wild."

You will be aware of the ludicrous position of Natural England which has been trying for several years to replicate the failed Scottish experiment south of Hadrian's Wall. They even have a Beaver Re-introduction Advisory Group.

The Angling Trust asks you to advise Natural England to abolish their Beaver Re-introduction Advisory Group and drop all plans to promote or encourage the spread of beavers into England.

For the avoidance of any doubt the NE position in favour of re-introducing the beaver can be found here...

http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/45003



Just for your info an email today said..

'For those that aren't already aware, there is a colony of re-introduced beavers in the Cotswold Water Park nr Swindon. They are in an enclosure on the Lower Mill Estate.

They are breeding and at least 2 have escaped..........'
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David Harvey

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PostSubject: Re: Minister urged to halt spread of beavers   Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:05 pm

Can of worms well and truly opened.

Scotland already in the proverbial muck...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-17387962
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Andy Banham

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PostSubject: Re: Minister urged to halt spread of beavers   Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:53 pm

if you want info on beavers go to wikipedia do not google!

sorry couldn,t resist
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