The National Farmers' Union Scotland (NFUS) is urging its members to participate in what is expected to be the most comprehensive survey of Scottish beaver numbers and their range.
Work on the NatureScot survey is expected to commence on Thursday (October 1) to gather information on the locations of active beaver territories, as well as assessing the health and spread of the overall population.
Since a first assessment in 2012, and subsequent survey work in 2017, it is known that beaver numbers have grown, spreading out from the unauthorised release site on Tayside.
The latest NatureScot survey, the first since the species received protected status, will cover Tayside and the surrounding river catchments, including the Forth, and river systems in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
NatureScot will be working with experienced beaver surveyors from the University of Exeter to search for signs of beavers on foot and by canoe across the area.
For farmers and landowners with land adjacent to rivers, burns or other waterbodies in and around the survey area, contractors may pass across property during the survey.
NatureScot will be liaising with NFUS and other stakeholders to keep members informed of survey work.
Farmers and landowners are also encouraged to report the presence of beavers on their land.
They can record sightings of beavers or evidence of beaver activity using the Mammal Society’s Mammal Mapper app.
Beaver numbers are expanding
NFUS vice president Martin Kennedy said:
“We would encourage as many members as possible to use the mammal mapper service or contact NatureScot if they are aware of, or suspect, beaver activity on their property.
We know that beaver numbers and their range are expanding but we must establish an accurate record on both to support the work of the management framework that has been established for beavers in Scotland.
"Some obvious signs of beaver activity that members can look out for include dammed watercourses, gnawed trees, piles of sticks and mud on the edge of a watercourse [often located below a lodge], general water edge disturbance and river bank erosion.
"This work will be the most in depth study and count to be carried out to date on beavers in Scotland and it is important that farmers and landowners are fully engaged."