Otter kills young beavers released at Loch Lomond

An otter is suspected to have killed two beaver kits released at Loch Lomond last month.

The kits, along with their parents and three siblings, were relocated from Tayside to a nature reserve as part of efforts to boost biodiversity.

The dead beavers and an otter were spotted on remote camera footage last week.

Conservationists said a post-mortem examination had confirmed an otter had preyed on one of the kits.

RSPB Scotland, which is involved in the beaver project, suspects the second kit had suffered the same fate. Its body remains missing.

In a blog post about the deaths, the charity said young beavers were vulnerable to falling prey to otters, foxes, pine martens, birds of prey and large pike.

It added: “Studies also show that kit mortality can be quite high especially in their first year.

“None of this makes it any easier and we’re very sad to have lost these kits despite it being a natural process.

“Thankfully, the rest of the family seem to be doing well.”

Image caption,

The kits along with two adults had been moved from Tayside

Loch Lomond is only the third location in Scotland where beavers have been moved to since a reintroduction trial at Knapdale, in Argyll, began in 2009.

Beavers, which were once native to Scotland before becoming extinct in the 16th Century, are a protected species. The animals found today have either been released under licence, or let go into the countryside illegally.

In 2021 the Scottish government announced its support for moving beavers from where they were considered a pest to more suitable habitats.

The pair of adult beavers and their five young offspring were moved to Loch Lomond from an area in Tayside where beaver activity was deemed a problem.

Following a series of health tests and checks, they were released at a national nature reserve jointly managed by RSPB Scotland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and NatureScot.

At the time of the release, RSPB Scotland director Anne McCall said: “We are delighted to have been able to offer a home to this family of beavers, speeding up their return to Loch Lomond.

“The national nature reserve, with its mix of open water, fen and wet woodland, is a perfect place for them.

“As nature’s engineers, they manage and create habitat in ways we could never hope to replicate.”

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