Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A report in the Argyllshire Advertiser 7 August 2009

Beavers disappear after gun shots fired

Wildlife crime not ruled out

Published: 07 August, 2009

A FRANTIC search for three beavers has been under way, after rifle shots were fired close to the Scottish Beaver Trial site in North Knapdale.

Police are investigating the unauthorised shooting on Forestry Commission land. Staff monitoring the beavers believe two were scared away while there has been no trace of a third since the incident. The possibility that this adult female has been deliberately or accidentally shot has not been ruled out.
Field Trial Officer Jenny Holden had been walking with her partner on June 6 when they heard rifle shots close to Loch Chreag Mhor, where a family of three beavers had been released the previous week.
She said: ‘When we returned to look for the beavers the next evening, only one beaver was seen in the loch.’ Strathclyde police wildlife crime officers were informed and trial staff began an extensive search for the two missing adult beavers. The male was sighted on the Crinan Canal, and later it appeared the juvenile left the loch to join him but staff could not catch up with either creature.
Then last week, signs of beaver life were spotted at a fish farm at Port na Moine on Loch Craignish. Farm manager Ian Webster said teeth marks were found on a 20ft tree in their yard. He said: ‘The beaver got half way through felling and the trunk snapped.’ Staff removed the tree and Mr Webster added: ‘They do travel quite a long way and they can cause quite a bit of damage.’
Although beaver trial workers deployed radio tracking equipment to locate the beaver, which they believe is the missing adult male, it had not been found as the Argyllshire Advertiser went to press. The whereabouts of the juvenile is still unknown, though they believe it may have been following the scent of its parent.
Of the missing female adult, Ms Holden said they were very concerned: ‘We don’t know whether she has been shot or whether she has been frightened. It is very unusual circumstances for a beaver, especially a female, to go away from the young.’
She added the other two beaver families had not been disturbed and were continuing to attract wildlife watchers. Although electronic tags have come off two animals, staff know their whereabouts and will re-tag them in the autumn.

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