Skip to main content

12 October, 2018

Beaver numbers increase across Tayside

Beaver numbers across Tayside have increased in the past six years, according to a new Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) survey.

The report estimates that around 430 beavers live in over 100 active beaver territories. A 2012 survey estimated beaver numbers across the region at about 150 beavers in 40 territories.

Nick Halfhide, SNH’s Director of Sustainable Growth, said, “By building dams, beavers improve local water quality and help nurture other wildlife, and it’s wonderful that people now have a chance to see these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.

“But in some parts of Scotland, beavers can cause problems, particularly in areas with prime agricultural land. So we are setting up a mitigation scheme – with input from a range of interest groups such as NFU Scotland through the Scottish Beaver Forum – to develop and trial techniques to help  farmers deal with any problems they encounter.”

SNH provide farmers with free, expert advice, as well as practical, on-the-ground solutions. These include techniques used across Europe, such as deterrent fencing, tree guards, piped dams, culvert and flood bank protection, as well as trialling new methods.

The survey detected 72 beaver lodges, 339 burrows, and 86 dams or recently removed dams. Beavers create lodges by burrowing into banks where they dig several chambers and entrances.

Beavers  range from as far north as Dunalastair Water, extend out to the River Dochart and River Lyon in the west, over to Forfar Loch in the east, and down to Loch Earn in the south. Beavers are also spreading beyond Tayside. There are a small number of beaver territories within the Forth catchment from Loch Achray in the Trossachs, parts of River Teith and Devon, to the main stem of Forth River near Stirling.

The Tayside survey was commissioned by SNH and carried out by the University of Exeter.

Professor Richard Brazier from the University of Exeter, said, “This survey provides a comprehensive understanding of the current extent of beaver activity across Tayside and neighbouring catchments and expansion in beaver territories since 2012. Our survey data and subsequent analysis provides a wealth of information into how free-living beaver populations expand across, and utilise resources within Scottish catchments. This information has wide ranging value for informing policy and management strategies surrounding beaver reintroduction across Scotland and beyond, maximising our ability to manage the conflicts and maximise the benefits associated with beavers.”

For the full report, see


MEDIA QUERIES: For more information, contact SNH media relations & PR officer, Vicki Mowat, on 0131 316 2659 or 07917 071 543 or or the main SNH press office on 0131 316 2655 or

PHOTOS: Credit Laurie Campbell. One-time use only.


Contact information

NatureScot Media
0131 316 2655

Notes to editors

The fieldwork for the survey involved walking riverbanks to look for, record and map field signs. Over 1,000 km of continuous banks were surveyed, plus another 310 km assessed using more rapid spot-checks.  The survey took 180 person-days to complete across all the catchments, and almost 29,000 field signs were recorded. SNH anticipates a similar survey in future years, but in the meantime, asks members of the public to help monitor the beaver population by recording their sightings using the free Mammal Tracker app, available free from ITunes App Store and Android Play Store (more information is available at ).

Beavers were hunted to extinction in Scotland about 400 years ago. In 2009, an official trial reintroduction of beavers, the Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT), took place in mid-Argyll. Since 2006, beavers have also been reported in Tayside as a result of unauthorised releases. The Scottish Government announced in November 2016 that it was minded to retain the Eurasian beaver in Scotland, and for them to be allowed to recolonise naturally.

More information on beavers in Scotland, including the SNH ‘Beavers in Scotland’ report, is available at .

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at . SNH media is also now on Twitter at

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig