In a significant policy step, Argaty Red Kites in Perthshire has been granted Scotland's first edge-of-range beaver translocation licence.
Argaty, a working farm which is home to the award-winning red kite project, has been awarded a licence by the Scottish Government’s nature agency NatureScot for the release of two families and one pair of beavers, without the need for enclosure fencing.
The beavers will be relocated from areas of prime agricultural land in Tayside where lethal control licences have been issued. They will be released on selected ponds at Argaty later this year, supported by the charity Beaver Trust.
The licence signifies a landmark change in policy from the Scottish Government, which until now has not allowed beavers to be relocated to new areas in Scotland. Translocation of beavers can only take place under strict circumstances by trained experts.
But with existing beaver territories only five miles away from Argaty farm – and dispersing animals likely to arrive naturally in coming years – government ministers and NatureScot have approved the Argaty application.
Tom Bowser, owner of Argaty Red Kites, said: "We are delighted that our application has been approved and cannot wait to bring beavers to our farm. It will be such a thrill to introduce our visitors to these wonderful animals and to witness the beavers’ amazing biodiversity-boosting work.
"Obtaining the licence has been challenging, has taken a long time and a lot of hard work, and we hope this will help the process become more streamlined for viable projects in the future.
“We want to thank Beaver Trust for supporting the project financially and with technical expertise. We are also grateful to the many hundreds of people who supported our consultations, and to the landowners who allowed beavers to be trapped and removed from their land."
Mark Ruskell MSP, a supporter of the project, said: “I’m delighted that Argaty is to be the first edge-of-range translocation site in Scotland, bringing beavers from Tayside to where they are needed and wanted. Tom Bowser and the team at Argaty deserve huge congratulations for the work they have done to get to this point.
“There has been a terrible over-reliance on shooting beavers in recent years. The translocation to the Teith catchment is the most humane option, which will grow beaver populations in the wider area – benefiting the wider environment and enhancing the experience for visitors and locals alike.”
Eva Bishop, spokesperson for Beaver Trust – which will be responsible for the translocation of the beavers – said: “We are absolutely delighted for Argaty and Tom’s family farm to have achieved such an important and positive step forward for Scottish beavers and beaver conservation across Britain.
“We hope more land managers are inspired by the team at Argaty and are always glad of the opportunity to work supporting viable projects like this one. Translocation is an important tool in the mitigation toolbox if undertaken responsibly, so we are delighted to see this progress.”
Beavers were reintroduced in Scotland in 2009 and became a protected species in 2019. They are valued for their impact on ecosystems and abilities as nature’s engineers, slowing the flow of water through river catchments and creating habitats that enable hundreds of other species to thrive.