29 September 2000

Union attacks Scottish beaver trial

PLANS to reintroduce European beavers to Scotland, after an absence of about 400 years, have been greeted with horror by the Scottish NFU.

"This is nothing less than an alien species," said Henry Murdoch, chairman of the unions environment and land use committee, following the Scottish Natural Heritage announcement that it was to press ahead with a trial to introduce beavers in Argyll.

"Argyll is to be plagued with the introduction of a roving animal species that doesnt belong there or in any other part of Scotland," Mr Murdoch said.

"These creatures are by their nature wanderers. You cant expect them to stay in a particular place. The notion of controlling them in a trial introduction is fraught with difficulties. And, with no exit strategy if something goes wrong, they could be here for keeps."

But the SNH insisted that only about a dozen beavers would be introduced to a site within Knapdale Forest. A field trial would then run for five years to assess the animals impact before any decision was tak-en on a widespread reintroduction. &#42