Angling bosses are courting controversy by bidding to stop the spread of beavers from Scotland into England.
The Angling Trust has today written to Fisheries and Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon urging him to authorise the trapping and lethal control of beavers following the alleged failure of the Scottish government to contain populations within a number of trial release sites.
They are considering applying to the European Commission for an exemption to the beaver’s European Protected Status to allow them to be controlled and their dams to be dismantled, which has been done in other member states.
Anglers throughout the UK reacted with concern to the announcement that the Scottish Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, has blocked the conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), from carrying out trapping and euthanasia of hundreds of beavers which have been released into the River Tay catchment.
These animals were almost certainly released illegally into the wild by beaver enthusiasts and have already spread throughout Perthshire and Angus and it is only a matter of time before they spread into England and Wales.
Anglers are particularly worried because beavers create dams across streams and rivers which can prevent coarse and game fish migrating up and downstream to complete their lifecycles.
There are also grave concerns following the discovery that the Scottish beavers may be carrying Echinococcus multilocularis, a tapeworm that can be transferred to foxes, dogs and people. It causes a number of human fatalities each year in countries in which it is present, which do not currently include the UK. Aveolar echinococcosis can take between 10 and 15 years to be diagnosed, by which time it has caused so much damage to the liver that 90% of patients die. In Switzerland, a far smaller country with far fewer foxes, the human death toll is between 20 and 30 cases a year.