Sir, – The recent announcement by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) that beaver numbers on Tayside have almost tripled in the space of six years will not only set alarm bells ringing amongst farmers on some of the most productive land in Scotland, but it will also come as a depressing reminder of how our eco system quickly spirals out of control when animals which can cause damage – in this case damage to arable land, trees and flooding – are allowed to breed unrestricted.

We have seen what has happened with badgers where their numbers have increased from around 50,000 in 1980 to well over 1m now in the UK and the devastating effect which they are having on bumblebees, hedgehogs and ground nesting birds, their eggs and young, including contributing to the catastrophic decline in the number of curlews left in this country.

It is to be hoped that SNH’s mitigation scheme will result in an immediate reduction in beaver numbers, otherwise the only way of reducing their population to a sustainable level is to allow them to be controlled by those farmers on the spot whose businesses and livelihoods are being affected.

There is no other solution and while this will not be popular amongst politicians and our increasingly urban dwelling and detached public, it is high time that forthright action is taken to stop a local problem from becoming a national one, as has happened with badgers and the consequential damage caused by inaction.

There remains time to manage the problem while the beavers are restricted to a relatively small, albeit very agriculturally productive part of the country. However, action needs to be taken swiftly before the problem escalates out of control.

Colin Strang Steel

Trustee of SongBird Survival,