Monday, 20 February 2012




Can you join me today and save the 'Free' Beavers of Scotland? I desperately need you to write an e-mail or letter to the Scottish Environment Minister and ask him to not kill over 100 beavers living wild and free on the River Tay. [Scroll to the bottom of the page where I have included my some tips and  e-mail  & address, although it is better to use your own words]


We know the Minister will make a decision to either kill or protect the beaver in the next 2 weeks. In the last month there has been a furious campaign by powerful lobby groups trying to force the Minister to eradicate the beavers. There have been the most appalling stories placed in Scottish newspapers from gamekeeper and hunting groups hell bent on the destruction of these wonderful animals. The only thing that will protect these beavers is those of us who love beaver to take a stand and tell the Minister we support the beaver.


If we act today we can Save the Beaver

Why are Beavers so important?

Beavers are the most important animal to the rivers of our wonderful country. Beavers are a 'keystone' species and their marvellous management of riverbanks helps create a home for a huge range of other wildlife.


Since we hunted beavers to extinction in the UK about 400 years ago our rivers and streams have been much the poorer. Riverbank animals like otters, water voles, dragonflies and kingfishers have all suffered in their absence.


Beavers create wetlands and these wetlands act as a giant sponge helping to retain and purify water, prevent pollution, reducing flooding and helping reduce the cost of water our water bills. A study in Germany estimated that every beaver was worth about £2,500 in reduced water bills and benefits to the people who lived nearby them.



What are the free beavers?

A population of free beaver has grown on the River Tay over the last 10 years, living wild and free.  There is a good chance these beaver were actually legally imported by Wildwood and quarantined at our park; this would have been just before we became a charity. Unknown to Wildwood, some of these beavers who had been given to a small zoo near the river Tay subsequently escaped.


These beaver have bred and most of the beavers will be now 3rd generation inhabitants of the tributaries of the River Tay. I am sure you will feel that we have a moral duty to protect these animals and join with me in efforts to save them.


This means the 'free' beavers are not part of the official beaver trial projects that Wildwood helps to manage with Kent Wildlife Trust at Ham Fen in Kent or the Scottish Wildlife Trust project in Knapdale in Scotland.


Last year the Scottish Government tried to trap the beavers and get rid of them. The first beaver, named Erica, died shortly after trapping in Edinburgh Zoo. There was a massive outcry of dismay at this poorly conceived policy and the injuries caused to this poor young animal by the mishandling of the process by those involved.


I myself visited Scotland at the time and later made contact with a group of ecologists who banded together to form the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, now a registered charity in Scotland. Thanks to the efforts of the Scottish Wild Beaver Group and the subsequent media outcry forced a hasty abandonment of the policy of killing the free beavers.


The beavers were given a one-year stay of execution while the Scottish Government reviewed the status of the Beaver. That stay of execution is now over. Please make sure the Scottish Environment minister makes the right decision and write a letter or send an e-mail to support the beaver today.


What can I do?

1.       Write a letter

Firstly, and most importantly,  write a letter to the Scottish Environment Minister telling him how much you value the free beaver of the Tay and that they are vital to our future river ecology. (see my letter below and information above for some help on writing a letter or sending an e-mail)




Our Write to:


Stewart Stevenson MSP,

The Scottish Parliament,


EH99 1SP



2.       Join our campaign

Join our campaign – you can join the 'Save the Free Beavers of the Tay'  Facebook group and learn how to get involved in the campaign


Make sure you have already joined Wildwood's Facebook page at:


You can then search our 'friends' for the 'Save the Free Beavers of the Tay' or click this link:


You can also sign up to e-mails on the Scottish Wild Beaver Website:


3.       Donate money to our Fighting Fund

Wildwood wants to do what it can to protect the beaver of the Tay and we need funds to assist our work, the two most important projects are funding a legal challenge and supporting campaign efforts on the ground. Visit our website for more info on making a donation: or call me on 01227 712111.


4.       Professional Legal Help

Are you or do you know an expert solicitor who can help us form a legal case to protect the beaver? We need expert legal advice. There is a good chance that killing the beaver is against European Law and we need expert legal advice to challenge the Scottish Government. There is already some precedent set with other European countries.


A very big thank you in advance for helping the 'FREE Beaver', please make sure you write your letter today.


Peter Smith

Chief Executive

Wildwood Trust




My letter to the Minister copied below:




Stewart Stevenson MSP,

The Scottish Parliament,


EH99 1SP



Dear Minister


Wild Beaver on the Tay


Wildwood Trust & myself have been heavily involved in the study & reintroduction of Beaver, leading the campaign to reintroduce Beaver to the UK. We have helped inform the Knapdale project and have had our own demonstration project, properly licensed by DEFRA, in England since 2000.


I myself used to work for Scottish Wildlife Trust and as a 'partial' Scot I have followed the story of the beavers' return to Scotland with great interest.


Our charity was established primarily to reintroduce beaver and wild horses as conservation management tools on nature reserves.  Our charity has grown considerably since it was founded 10 years ago and now boasts over 50,000 members, which incidentally is more than Scottish Wildlife Trust.


Wildwood's members would be horrified by a Government decision to do any harm to the Tay beavers without a proper scientific study and a very sound legal opinion.


I have watched in horror over the last few months with the appalling press releases and media campaigning by the more extreme elements of landowning and hunting groups. Much of the information is of extremely poor quality and it would be a travesty of 'evidence based policy making' if you were to give it credible credence in your deliberations.


Unfortunately even some of the language of your own civil servants in calling our furry friends 'illegal beavers' has been worrying for many beaver supporters. The legal situation of beaver, as now 3rd generation residents of Scotland, brings a lot of complex legal issues to the fore as to their status under Scottish and European law. I myself have discussed the legal situation with a number of bodies and the legal opinions I have seen, some of which are no doubt available to yourself, are not supportive of a cull and as such would open up such a decision to legal challenge.


Due to the strong feelings of our members and supporters if a decision is made to cull the beaver I will have no other option than mount a legal challenge and instruct our legal team in this regard.


Beavers are a highly beneficial, native, wild animal. Their reintroduction has been successful all over Europe. Let us welcome the ones who have made their home on Tayside and benefit from the many advantages they bring. 


There is a wealth of scientific information that shows just how beavers benefit our streams and rivers and help our environment. Beaver can help cut water bills, purify water and help our rivers increase fish and wildlife populations. The arguments against beavers have little scientific validity and are from groups only concerned with narrow self-interest, the same groups that have held Scotland back from achieving its true potential for many generations.


Scotland needs to look forward to a new future, a future that has wildlife at the very heart of its policies. A Scotland that is rich in wildlife will be a beacon attracting the best minds to its industries, bolstering our export markets and giving a warm welcome to all of our visitors. Beaver really can help Scotland increase its wild appeal and create river habitats that are brim full of wildlife. 


If you can spare me half an hour I would love to visit you to answer any questions you may have about beavers and bring a team who really understand just how beaver reintroduction has worked in Europe. Ten years ago we had a similar conversation with Michael Meacher, the then Environment Secretary and our team give him all the knowledge he needed to become a supporter of beavers in the UK.


Beavers are truly amazing animals, please give beavers a chance. Scotland will be much the better and your decisions will bring joy and happiness to future generations.



Yours sincerely




Peter Smith BSc MSc MA MBA

Chief Executive









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