Sir, – On Friday January 18, I attended a talk on beavers in the Aberfeldy Campus, organised by the Breadalbane Heritage Society.

The speaker, Roisin Campbell-Palmer, gave an excellent and balanced appraisal of the likely developments in our natural heritage resulting from two reintroductions of beavers, one under the auspices of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, well documented and monitored, at Knapdale, in Argyll, and the other completely unauthorised and illegal in Tayside.

As any observer of our local river environment will be aware, the ever increasing activity of these wood-chewing mammals is truly amazing and at the same time most alarming – witness the wholesale tree felling and burrowing activity on the river bank.

I was surprised, though, that Ms Campbell-Palmer did not see fit to include in her evaluation of environmental impacts the results of the Chilean and Argentinian experiences following on from the release of 10 pairs of beavers into Fagnano Lake in 1946, hopefully to form the basis of a fur trade for local trappers. Said beavers had, by 2016, expanded their territory some 200 miles north-west from the lake to the edge of Punto Arenas city, this expansion being a continuation from the first sighting on the mainland in 1994.

These beavers were protected by law for 30 years after their release but since then the beavers have been reclassified as a harmful species and year round hunting is now allowed in an effort to reduce the population, estimated to be up to 200,000.

Seventy years on from the initial release, it is viewed in Chile and Argentina as a colossal mistake and the destructive power of them in Patagonia surprised ecologists in North America where these same animals have been re-introduced to wetlands in need of restoration, although they at least do have apex predators to slow the inevitable increase in beaver ranges and populations.

Let us hope the Scottish Government takes the Chilean and Argentinian experiences, both of which countries in common with Scotland lack apex predators, into consideration whilst considering the future status of our newly re-introduced species.

I, for one, would be pleased to have areas established with full protection for these animals but also allow control outside such areas. I believe that view prevails in Poland where their enlightened approach seems to strike a good balance.

Alistair Henderson

Carse Farm,