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Can you think of a name for this baby boy beaver? Pic: Scottish Beaver Trial
Scottish Beaver
Update by news editor   02-09-2011

Competition to name a baby beaver

Kids needed to help name kit born in beaver trial

A competition has been launched to name one of the first beavers born in the wild in Scotland for hundreds of years.

The male kit is already a year old but has been nameless since his birth last summer.

He was born in Argyll and is part of the Scottish Beaver Trial.

Beavers became extinct in the wild here over 400 years ago after hunters killed the last one. People wanted their warm, thick pelt, or fur.

But in May 2009, four families of Norwegian beavers were released in Knapdale forest.

The animals are all tagged and are being watched very carefully to make sure they don't damage the local environment.

If the beavers settle into their new habitat well by 2014 they will be allowed to stay in the wild in Scotland for good.

They can be very helpful to local ecosystems. By pruning trees and sometimes damming rivers, beavers make changes to their environment that can help other species including otters, water shrews, water voles, birds, dragonflies and fish.

But if the trial is not a success - for example if the beavers cause a lot of damage to the forest or eat too many fish - then the beavers may have to be recaptured and put in a zoo or even put down.

The adult animals involved in the trial all have names, including Marlene and Mary-Lou.

And hopefully there will be even more wild beavers very soon. A pregnant female was spotted recently and workers on the trial think they may have seen a brand new baby in the last few days!

"The little ones can be nearly impossible to spot because they are absolutely tiny, but fingers crossed we have got one," Greg Tinker from the Scottish Wildlife Trust told the Daily What News.

To enter the competition to name the beaver kit send your ideas to gtinker@swt.org.uk by Friday 7 October. You must be under 16 years old to enter.

The prize is a close up picture of the beaver you will name and the chance to go on a beaver safari boat trip.

Look out for the winning entry after the October half term - we will keep you posted!

 

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Competition to name a baby beaver


Tagged, tracked and traced - Big Brother really is watching the Argyll beavers

When they were released into the wild as part of the Scottish Beaver Trial, the 16 beavers from Norway were fitted with identity labels, satellite tags and radio transmitters.

 

Not only that but a team of volunteers was trained up to track the animal in the forests of Argyll. The creatures literally can't have a poo without the Scottish Beaver Trust knowing about it.

 

Why all the surveillance?

 

The Scottish Beaver Trial is part of a European-wide drive to reintroduce the animals into the wild. Apart from being a popular native species that many people want to see populating our forests and rivers again, the beaver helps to create habitats for other wildlife.

 

But there are many potential drawbacks too, which is why the Argyll beavers are being very closely watched.

 

The animals have no natural predators in Scotland. A single family will fell up to 300 trees a year and their dams can cause flooding and affect water courses.

Scotland has changed in the time that beavers have been away. Today's landscape has less tree cover and far more agriculture than it did 500 years ago. Farmers want to know how the river damming that beavers often do could affect their fields.

Some anglers fear dams on salmon rivers could affect fish migration so no salmon rivers are involved in the trial area.

Beavers are highly selective feeders, typically taking a branch off one tree, a bough off the next, ignoring the next - a process known as beaver coppicing. This has the overall effect of thinning out the tree cover to let in more light.

But it's not all bad and in fact, beavers can have a positive impact on forestry, fishing and farming.

At Loch Coille-Bharr in Knapdale visitors are encouraged to walk on the Beaver Detective Trail to see a dam created by the beavers. Beyond the dam is a broad stretch of water full of birch, rowan and willow trees, as well as frogs and toads.

Besides helping frogs, the still water can provide a valuable source of fish for otters, increase breeding and feeding areas for herons and kingfishers, and boost insect and fish numbers too.

When, eventually, the beavers abandon the dam it breaks down in rainfall and eventually gets washed away, causing the water level to drop and leaving behind a 'beaver meadow', an area of nutrient-rich sediment that causes a flush of green vegetation.

Dams can also hold water during periods of drought, regulate flooding and improve water quality by catching silt and agricultural run-off.

Coppicing has been a normal process on riverbanks and the actions of beavers will make the woodland habitat more natural.

If, after five years, the Argyll beavers are found to have benefitted the area, the programme of reintroduction will continue. If not, they will be sent to live in zoos, other ecology projects or may even be put down.


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adapted from article by Louisa McLennan
read original story here

Experiences & Outcomes

  • I can identify and classify examples of living things, past and present, to help me appreciate their diversity. I can relate physical and behavioural characteristics to their survival or extinction. SCN 2-01a
  • I can sample and identify living things from different habitats to compare their biodiversity and can suggest reasons for their distribution. SCN 3-01a
  • I understand how animal and plant species depend on each other and how living things are adapted for survival. I can predict the impact of population growth and natural hazards on biodiversity. SCN 4-01a
  • I can use my knowledge of the interactions and energy flow between plants and animals in ecosystems, food chains and webs. I have contributed to the design or conservation of a wildlife area. SCN 2-02a
  • I can report and comment on current scientific news items to develop my knowledge and understanding of topical science. SCN 2-20b
  • Through research and discussion, I have contributed to evaluations of media items with regard to scientific content and ethical implications. SCN 3-20b
  • Having selected scientific themes of topical interest, I can critically analyse the issues, and use relevant information to develop an informed argument. SCN 4-20b
  • I can identify the possible consequences of an environmental issue and make informed suggestions about ways to manage the impact. SOC 3-08a