May 29, 2009

Beavers reintroduced to Britain

The return of beavers to Britain after 400 years has enthralled conservationists and disgusted at least one property owner who calls them nocturnal rats.

Two families of beavers imported from Norway were released into the wild Thursday on the west coast of Scotland, The Daily Telegraph reported. A third family was to be released Friday.

The 11 beavers are the survivors of 17 trapped in Norway and kept in quarantine in England since last fall. Six died in quarantine, the Telegraph reported.

The beavers, fitted with tracking devices, will boost tourism, improve aquatic habitat and lower the risk of flooding by slowing water in rivers and streams, conservationists said.

Some land owners and sportsmen, however, said they believe the beavers will endanger migrating native salmon and sea trout, said Robin Malcolm, chief of the Clan MacCallum and owner of a castle near the forests where the beavers were released.

Malcolm calls the beavers destructive nocturnal rats that have been foisted on Scotland and will ruin his land, the Telegraph reported.