Beavers: Environmental engineer or a waterway menace?

You may have noticed the positive press about Beavers over the past couple of years. Whilst Beavers can improve the environment and help to clip spates there is little or nothing said about the adverse effect on migratory fisheries.

There has been a 5 year project on the River Otter in Devon monitoring the release of Beavers into the wild, this project ended in 2020. You can read the River Otter Beaver Trial Science and Evidence Report below. To put a positive spin on things you will see the claim that : This major new report from the five year trial finds that beavers bring benefits to people and wildlife…. The problem with this sentence it makes claims of benefits to wildlife and people but there is scant reference to the damage to migratory fisheries. As with many reports the bad news is buried deeply in the report, so deep that without thoroughly reading the report and then analyzing the evidence on fisheries and in particular migratory fish you could be convinced that there are no problems. Think again! If you take the trouble to read the report you will see that above Beavers dams there are few juvenile salmonids, but the report puts a positive spin on this by saying that trout are larger! In a recent report on a Scottish Beaver project it makes a claim the these larger trout are what anglers want to catch! Whilst there are photograph’s in the report of a few sea trout leaping the Beaver dam it is then claimed that this demonstrates that dams are not a barrier to migration. There is nothing about the barrier to the down stream migration of smolts. As smolts cannot pass the dam they are predated on by saw billed ducks and trout – which is why the trout are bigger!

There was a recent workshop about releasing into the wild 10 pairs of Beavers on the Dovey. Arising from this workshop I have written to the Minister requesting a moratorium until such time as migratory fish stocks in Welsh rivers have recovered, you can read the letter by clicking the link below. It is believed that the 10 pairs of Beavers will be relocated from Scotland where due to the rapid increase in Beaver populations they are having to be culled or relocated – we don’t want the same thing happening in Wales. The expectation is that in response to the letter there may well be a public consultation, please take the trouble to respond to this if and when it is available.