NFU Scotland continues to highlight the ‘eye-watering physical damage’ to farms from beaver activity as a new poll says three-quarters of Scots want public bodies to identify more sites to release the rodents.

Polling carried out by Survation for the Scottish Rewilding Alliance (SRA) found 73% of respondents said Scotland’s public bodies should identify more sites on their land where beavers could live.

Kevin Cumming, SWA deputy convenor said: “This is overwhelming public support for bringing back beavers to suitable habitat.

“Government bodies that manage land on behalf of the public need to listen, and move ahead on reintroducing these key allies in tackling the nature and climate emergencies”.

SWA says the Scottish Government’s nature agency, NatureScot, has identified more than 100,000ha of ‘beaver core woodland’ across Scotland, where beavers could establish long-term territories, while Scotland’s government bodies manage 10% of public land between them.

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It also calls for ‘bolder action’ from Forestry Land Scotland, whose land includes waterways suitable for beavers, adding that relocations should be prioritised when landowners have problems, with lethal control licences only issued as a genuine last resort.

The Alliance also advocates paying farmers for having beavers on their land.

NFU Scotland policy director Jonnie Hall said: “Following last autumn’s severe flooding, several Scottish Government ministers have met with NFU Scotland members to see first-hand how the impacts of beavers and river management restrictions have significantly compounded agricultural losses and flood bank damage.

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“Sites visited have succumbed to massive blowouts of long-established flood banks due to them being compromised by beaver lodges – causing eye-watering physical damage and financial losses stretching in some cases to six figures that the farm business cannot sustain.

“We have written to Scottish Government with a list of clear demands to address this issue and await a response.

“Scottish Government is largely responsible for the recent damage we have seen to crops, flood banks and fields on two fronts. Firstly, inactivity on river management and secondly, which we have warned about constantly, and the exponential increase in numbers of beavers.

“We are now at the point where we simply cannot afford to have any of these rodents present in areas of productive land, end of. Exclusion zones around prime agricultural land must be established.”

The Scottish Government says it is ‘committed to expanding the beaver range’.

A spokesperson said: “Beavers are native to Scotland and belong in our natural environment. Beavers bring many benefits to biodiversity through their creation of wetland habitats that support a range of species including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds and mammals. Beaver dams also play an important role in filtering sediment from watercourses and in mitigating flooding.

“That is why we reintroduced beavers across Scotland and are committed to expanding the beaver range to maximise the environmental, social and economic benefits that beavers bring.

“We will continue to support the identification and expansion of beaver populations. We also recognise that appropriate management and mitigation is important to those affected. We will continue to work with local communities to ensure that beavers are reintroduced into areas that maximise biodiversity and wider environmental gains and avoid potential negative impacts.”