Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Beaver Kits 2011

From STV News

'An initiative to bring beavers back to the west of Scotland has seen new births for the second year in a row.

The Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale forest in Argyll has reintroduced the aquatic rodents to the area, with four families currently in the wild.

Although one kit was killed by predators, a second born this summer looks to be thriving and has been spotted swimming and feeding by project staff.

Scottish Beaver Trial Field Operations Manager Roisin Campbell-Palmer said: "After a successful year last year, there were hopes for good breeding success in 2011 and indeed this year has again brought new kits to Knapdale.

"Earlier this year we saw the two families that bred successfully last year both increase the size of their lodges, and we suspected the two adult females were pregnant. Our hopes were confirmed when adults were seen repeatedly carrying fresh vegetation into the lodges.

"Recently, one of the beaver kits was found dead by our field officer and was therefore immediately removed for a full, independent post mortem examination. Early post mortem results indicate that this young animal probably died as a result of an attack by a predator but further tests are ongoing to establish an exact cause of death."

Ms Campbell-Palmer said the death was an inevitable part of any animal reintroduction and has been seen in other similar beaver reintroduction projects elsewhere in Europe.

She noted that there was no evidence of any infectious disease or malnutrition in the dead kit.

Ms Campbell-Palmer added: "So far there’s no evidence that the two younger pairs of beavers have bred, however given their age this is to be expected. They are showing all the right signs for the future: building impressive lodges, successfully maintaining their territories together, as well as continuing to put on weight since their release into the wild and appearing in good body condition.

"We’re extremely pleased to have a successful wild birth again at Knapdale Forest as part of the Scottish Beaver Trial and all indications for future breeding are extremely positive."

The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and host Forestry Commission Scotland, to undertake a time-limited trial reintroduction of the European beaver to Knapdale in mid-Argyll.'

It doesn't seem to matter how the trial is going, it is always portrayed as a great success. In 2010, two kits were born, five beavers were added to the trial, one of which died. In 2011 a male beaver dispersed and has not been seen since. There was a total of 11 beavers at the end of year two of the trial.

Beavers usually produce two or three kits so for four breeding pairs to produce two kits (one to each of two older breeding pairs) must be hugely disappointing. For one of those kits to be killed by an, as yet unknown, predator must be devastating. Halfway through the trial, there have been a total of 20 beavers in Knapdale of which only 12 remain - one more than the trial started with in May 2009.

Those of us who feared being overrun by beavers, probably have very little to worry about.

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