from Sunday Herald, 27 February 2011
The impassioned battle over the future of beavers in Scotland has turned nasty. Three have allegedly been killed, angry accusations are flying, and a formal complaint has been lodged with the European Commission.
A campaign headed up by a landowner to stop the government’s wildlife agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), from trapping beavers in Tayside is winning widespread support, and is threatening to derail plans to clear the area of the dam-building, tree-gnawing mammals.
But campaigners now fear that other landowners or farmers may be taking the law into their own hands and killing the beavers. According to unconfirmed reports, two have been shot and one caught in a snare on Dean Water, upstream of the village of Meigle near Blairgowrie in Perthshire.
SNH says there are up to 20 wild beavers living along rivers in a 50-square kilometre area between Aberfeldy, Forfar, Dundee and Perth. Local people, however, think there could be 50 or more.
Their origins are also hotly disputed. Some say they are descendants of animals that escaped from a wildlife park a decade ago, while others allege they have been deliberately released by private owners.