Angling Trust Policy Statement on Beavers
The Angling Trust opposes the re-introduction of beavers. In depth analysis of re-introduction projects in Europe, North America and Scotland has highlighted huge potential risks to rivers in England should a similar project be proposed for this country:
• Health & safety concerns due to flooding from beaver dam collapses (research shows a number of human deaths, injuries and damage to property and railway lines in the USA. These impacts would only be worse in the more populated river corridors of England).
• Barriers to coarse and salmonid fish movements; dams would also hinder European plans to allow eels access to more of our waterways.
• Beaver dams can be a source of pollutants once the dams collapse, in particular; nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.
• Increased water temperatures in rivers as a result of the creation of beaver ponds.
• Erosion of river banks by beavers burrowing.
• Lack of a predator capable of regulating beaver populations.
The Angling Trust believes that fish populations in England are not healthy enough to be able to withstand the introduction of beavers and that these proposals should be postponed until the Water Framework Directive has been implemented and good ecological status has been achieved in all catchments. We also oppose introductions outside England as beavers will cross borders.
Much has been made of the fact that beavers will be radio tagged so that they can easily be caught if they stray out of designated pilot areas, but this is not borne out by what we have recently seen. In the South West of England, radio tagged beavers have escaped from a “secure compound” and yet it has not been possible to trap them. In Scotland, 11 beavers were released in May this year as part of a pilot scheme; one has disappeared completely and two were spotted in a nearby canal and now cannot be found.
In the most successful areas where beavers have been re-introduced abroad, culling by man is a routine occurrence to contain numbers and to ensure that the adverse effects of beavers on waterways do not escalate out of control. The Angling Trust does not believe that this is financially viable given all the other demands on budgets for maintenance and improvement of our waterways. It is also naive to imagine that culling would not result in adverse public reaction.
In those areas abroad where beavers have remained within their natural range and populations have increased naturally, governments (e.g. Canada) use considerable resources to protect infrastructure and remove dams or install fish passes in them to aid fish movements. The Angling Trust believes that resources in this country would be better utilised in addressing the many existing problems on our rivers, as identified in the Water Framework Directive.