Something unusual on the River Gryffe

There have been some interesting rumours flying around the club of late…the committee has held off however on commenting until we had made some proper enquiries to ensure that any information given out to members was accurate.  Hopefully now we can put some useful information out to everyone.

We’ve had contact from a number of members after a number if sightings of what appeared at first to be otters or large mink spotted on the River Gryffe.  There have also been an unusually high number of trees this year which have ended up in the river which will have to be cut up and removed by work parties.

The turning point came when a long time club member fishing just up from Ardgryffe Crescent took a number of photographs with his camera phone.  He was kind enough to email them on to us via the club website although we decided to quickly remove them from the Faceboook page until we had made some more enquiries.

The first shows one of the creatures swimming in a section of river between Argryffe Crescent and Leaburn Gardens although it’s difficult to immediately identify what it is.

Spotted swimming between Ardgryffe Crescent & Leaburn Gardens

Spotted swimming between Ardgryffe Crescent & Leaburn Gardens

The second photograph however is a lot clearer and easier to identify the animal.

Recognise this?

Recognise this?

The photograph below taken by the same member later the same day close to Leaburn Gardens show trees which appear to have been gnawed around the base.  Some other trees in the area have had large amounts of bark removed but too far down the tree to be damage done by deer or other native species.

Trees near Leaburn Gardens

Trees near Leaburn Gardens

In the first instance, we emailed the photographs on to the Curator of Natural History at Kelvingrove Museum.  This brought the conformation that the photographs are indeed of a beaver and that the damage to trees seems consistent with beaver dam building activity.

The Curator had advised the club that beavers had first been reintroduced to the Knapdale Forest in Argylll back in 2009 in an experiment closely monitored by various groups, including Scottish Natural Heritage, Oxford University, the Argyll Fisheries Trust, Stirling University, the Scottish Agricultural College, the Royal School of Veterinary Studies, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Argyll and Bute Council, Historic Scotland and various others.  The number of beavers now living wild in Knapdale is believed to be around 200 with successful matings pairs amongst their numbers.

He also advised that, earlier this year, a  group of at least 100 beavers was also discovered on the River Tay although these are believed to have escaped or been illegally released from private collections and could have been living in the wild in Scotland since as long ago as 2001

The club have since been in contact with the Scottish government for advice and a spokesperson confirmed that there appear to have been further populations discovered in various other areas of Scotland but would not be drawn on whether any breeding pairs had been recorded on the Gryffe or anywhere else in the Clyde catchment area.  When pressed on the government’s plans for any illegally released or escaped beavers, we were advised that the animals would now be monitored for the next three years but that  there are no plans at this time to consider trapping or hunting any of the animals.  In 2015 a decision about the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland as a whole will be made.

Below are some links to related articles on the BBC website which may be of interest to members.

Opinions still divided on beavers http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-17396197

Plan to trap River Tay beavers reversed by ministers:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-17387962

Legal challenge over River Tay’s wild beavers:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-12612946

We would ask that members do not take any action or attempt to trap or hunt beavers as this would of course be illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and could leave members liable to criminal prosecution.  It would be helpful however, to assist us to closely monitor any developments that members pass on any signs of beaver activities with photographs and locations where possible.  Any information or photographs should be emailed to the club at paisleyabercorn@ntlworld.com

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