As part of the Scottish beaver Trial (SBT), the first beavers of the wild in Scotland dating back to 400 years have been released to a designated trial area in Mid Argyll for a time period of five years. Since being hunted to extinction in UK in the 16th century, this marks the first ever formal reintroduction of the native mammal into the wild in the UK, after years of lobbying from conservation experts and ecologists who believes that it was a missing part in the Scotland’s wetland ecosystem.
Originally from Norway, beavers were hunted to extinction in Scotland because they were very valuable. Highly prized, their soft, thick and waterproof fur was very fashionable and it was also highly sought after for its secretion castoreum that contains salicylic acid which was produced in a gland below the tail and was an active ingredient of aspirin. In some areas, they were an important part of the diet and they were a substitute for fish by the Roman Catholics on Fridays.
Chairman of the Scottish wildlfe trust, Allan Bantick said:
“Today, we take one more step towards rebuilding the natural biodiversity of Scotland. Beavers are known to bring a vast number of benefits to other native Scottish wildlife as well as wetland and waterside habitats. Our reintroduction follows in the footsteps of 24 other European countries, who have already reintroduced beavers to over 150 different sites.”
As the beavers settle into their new purpose built artificial lodges, the real work of the SBT begins. The trial is all about a scientific study on how the beavers cope naturally in the Scottish environment and what the various effects they have upon it are… To help inform the independent scientific monitoring coordinated by the Scottish Natural Heritage, they will be closely watched and data will be collected over the next five years.
Visitors will be allowed to see the trial site over time but first the beavers need to settle down. By timing, early morning or early evening will be the right time to spot these intriguing animals in the wild.