Page last updated at 10:35 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 11:35 UK

Beavers 'good for biodiversity'

Reintroduced beaver
A total of 11 beavers were released in Knapdale

Beavers released in Scotland will improve biodiversity, rangers at a wildlife centre have suggested.

Aigas Field Centre, near Beauly in the Highlands, has been running its own beaver project since 2006.

The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards said reintroduction would be "recklessly irresponsible" before looking at the impact on fish.

However, the rangers at Aigas said they did not believe beavers would damage habitats or harm fish stocks.

Spawning grounds

They said, in their experience, the animals in their 200-acre habitat behaved as they would in the wild.

The beavers, they claimed, improved biodiversity by cutting back water lilies and allowing other plant and animal species to establish.

The Aigas team, who have not carried out a scientific study, also said their seven beavers showed the animals could survive in Scottish habitats.

A total of 11 beavers were released into the wild in Knapdale forest in May.

Fishermen warned that beaver dams could threaten salmon and trout stocks, preventing fish from migrating upstream.

It is claimed the Knapdale trial will be a major contribution to Scotland's Species Action Framework, which identifies 32 species, including European beaver, as the focus of new management action.

The released beavers were captured in the Telemark region of Norway in September last year.

They were flown to the UK in November and spent six months in quarantine.

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