Wildlife campaigners have hailed a “historic day for Scotland” as beavers are granted protected status a decade after their successful reintroduction in Argyll. It is now illegal to kill animals, or destroy established dams and lodges without a licence.
Beavers had been extinct in Britain for centuries until a project by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland started in 2009 introduced 16 Eurasian beavers from Norway to Knapdale forest, Argyll and Bute, where there is now estimated to be a population of between 24 and 36 of the mammals.
The beaver project was among the first successful reintroduction of wild mammals to the UK. It led to further, unregulated, releases of beavers in Tayside, where most recent estimates for the population now stand at up to 550.