Tayside and Central Scotland

Re-homed 'Tay beaver' dies at Edinburgh Zoo

Image caption The Scottish Wild Beaver Group has opposed the trapping of the Tay beavers

A beaver captured on the River Tay after it was ordered the animals should be "re-homed" has died at Edinburgh Zoo.

The animal, nicknamed "Erica", was trapped late last year. The zoo said it had died "very recently".

Up to 20 beavers are believed to have escaped from private collections and are now living on the River Tay.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said it was illegal to allow their escape or release into the wild.

An official trial reintroduction is currently being held at Knapdale in Argyll.

SNH issued the trapping order for the wild River Tay beavers in November. Many of the animals, escaped from private collections in Angus and Perthshire, have also begun to breed.

'Sad death'

It said the beavers' presence would "subvert and undermine" Scotland's position in carrying out trial reintroductions of species according to "best scientific practice".

But the order has been opposed by the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, who are planning to challenge the decision in the courts.

The group said it was "sad and very angry" to hear about the juvenile beaver's death.

Spokeswoman Louise Ramsay said: "We think the sad death of this young beaver emphasises the cruelty and folly of the attempt to trap and remove these native animals.

"We were told at the outset that this was being done for the animals' welfare, because it was not being monitored in any way."

Ms Ramsay said SNH and the Scottish government would need to "reconsider" the trapping policy.

It is understood that the beaver was trapped in one of the tributaries of the Tay in early December.

Iain Valentine, the zoo's director of animals, said keepers were "saddened" to find the beaver dead in its enclosure.

"The beaver was temporarily being housed by the Royal Zoological Society Scotland in a large enclosure reflective of its natural habitat and had adapted really well to its new environment and seemed in good health.

"The cause of death is not known and an independent post-mortem is currently being carried out. The results will be made available as soon as we have them."

A spokeswoman for SNH said: "This is sad news, particularly as Erica seemed to be adjusting well to captivity and to be in good health - so much so that we understand a move to Highland Wildlife Park where people could visit her was being considered."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites