Beavers had been extinct in the UK for decades when a reintroduction project launched in Knapdale forest in 2009. Photograph: Ashley Hugo/Alamy Wildlife campaigners have hailed a “historic day for Scotland” as beavers are granted protected status a decade after their successful reintroduction in Argyll. It is now illegal to kill the animals, or destroy established dams and lodges without a licence. While wildlife groups emphasise the widespread ecological benefits of the beavers’ reintroduction, including increasing biodiversity and reducing flood risk, farming representatives continue to raise concerns about damage to agricultural land and waterways. Welcoming the European Protected Status, which comes into force on Wednesday, Barbara Smith, the chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “This is an historic day for Scotland and a milestone for the many of us who have worked together for years on the return of this species. “[It] is a vital step in welcoming beavers back as a natural part of our ecosystem and a most welcome success as part of wider and continued efforts to protect and enhance our natural heritage.” Announcing the legislation earlier this year the Scottish government’s environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, described the beaver as being of […]

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