Date lodged: 14 December 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what the welfare implications are of the delay in granting protected status to the European beaver.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 12 January 2018
The Scottish Government does not accept there has been a delay in granting beavers protected species status. A process is being followed as was set out in the decision of 22 November 2016. That decision stated that Scottish Ministers were minded that the beaver populations in Knapdale in Argyll and in the Tay and Earn catchments could remain in Scotland. The decision was subject to satisfactory completion of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). The intention remains that beavers in Scotland will be given protection under the law as a European Protected Species as soon as is practicable after completion of the Assessment processes. The HRA has been satisfactorily completed. The SEA is currently subject to public consultation.
The Scottish Government is not aware of any welfare implications during the process for granting the European beaver protected status. Scottish Natural Heritage has published advice on welfare issues arising from the management of beavers. If evidence emerges that beaver welfare is being ignored in specific areas, the Scottish Government will consider the use of Nature Conservation Orders (NCO) made under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. NCOs can be used to prohibit specified actions, such as shooting beavers. Failing to comply with an NCO is a criminal offence.