Farmer Focus: Beavers introduced with no consultation

Over the past few years, beavers have been reintroduced into our local river, the Dyfi, and its tributaries, without any correspondence with the communities involved.

This has caused a great deal of concern to us as local farmers, and we’ve recently been involved in meetings and workshops to voice our concerns.

We’ve also taken part in virtual meetings with members of NFU Scotland, hearing their story of the illegal release of beavers in Tayside only 15 years ago.

See also: Farmers applaud controlled management of beavers in Scotland

About the author

Dafydd Parry Jones
Dafydd Parry Jones and wife Glenys, Machynlleth, Powys, run a closed flock of 750 Texel and Aberfield cross ewes and 70 Hereford cross sucklers cows on 180ha. Their upland organic system uses Hereford bulls, Charollais terminal sires and red clover silage, multispecies leys and rotational grazing.
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We were alarmed to hear how the beaver population has increased dramatically over this period. Recent surveys have estimated more than a thousand now inhabit the area and are increasing annually by a staggering 20%. 

We were also alarmed by the devastation they cause. They create burrows in river embankments, and easily weaken flood defences.

There is also concern about disease, and their ability to dam streams and rivers and severely damage bankside trees.

These issues endanger the ability of lowlands to produce forage for winter, undermining the viability of keeping livestock.

The reintroduction of beavers creates long-term issues, as there is no known method of control to reduce numbers.

Among all the controversy happening in Eastern Europe, food security is back on the agenda. Beaver dams create severe drainage problems to fertile land, affecting this security.

The reintroduction of this species certainly needs to be regulated. A small population needs to be carefully monitored before a licence is granted to introduce more.

The minority in favour of a reintroduction of beavers have a five-year plan.

We as farmers have a dream, to see generations follow us on the land, and we have a duty to our descendants to question the reintroduction of any species to a productive farming area.

Our communities would be very happy to reintroduce species that we could comfortably work alongside, such as the red squirrel.

The reintroduction of beavers is a romantic proposition to many, but very often it will be the farmers who will have to live with the consequences.