Scottish beavers disappearing amid fears of foul play

400 years ago, Scotland's beavers were hunted to extinction. Now a question mark hangs over plans to repopulate the country after the mysterious disappearance of several animals reintroduced to Argyll in May.

The beavers were brought over from Norway after years of wrangling and deliberation, with hopes that their arrival would be the first step towards a breeding population in the UK.

But less than three months later, one of the eleven animals is confirmed as dead while two others are unaccounted for.

A male was found dead shortly after arriving, while an adult female went missing in June. Gunshots were reported in the area at the time of the animal’s disappearance.

Now a second female has disappeared, again feared dead.

Although the animals are tagged, rocky terrain and other geographical obstacles often interfere with the radio signals.

Two animals have been out of ‘radio contact’ for some weeks and their tags are assumed to be damaged or lost.

Simon Jones, Scottish Beaver Trial project manager, said: “Field staff and volunteers have been working around the clock in an effort to track the missing beavers.

“Tracking requires a combination of methods including looking for field signs, observing beaver activity, and following radio signals from the transmitters attached to the animals.

“Our ongoing search for the adult female will continue, but it can take time to establish the location of certain individuals as tracking techniques do not always provide instant results.

“We are obviously concerned that there could to be a link between her disappearance and the unauthorized shooting and the local police have been informed.

“We suspect that the noise from the shooting has disturbed these animals even if no direct link between the shooting and disappearance is found.”

Sam Bond

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