Localised damage to sugar beet crop three meters from river bank

Beaver impact on livestock farming, the form of agricultural land use occupying the greatest proportion of any prospective beaver territory in Wales, is not seen as a major issue. Beaver do not pose any physical threat, and their role as a vector for disease is considered of negligible significance.

Problems can be caused to riparian crops, including maize and roots, especially sugar beet. Such impacts are usually localised since beaver tend to forage mainly within 20 metres of a riverbank and rarely range further than 100 metres.

A number of management options can address this situation.  Large mesh fencing (pig wire) and standard low-voltage electric fencing is highly effective – used either alongside or across waterways.   Beaver have good memories and electric wiring placed for one week will prevent them from attempting entry for up to 3 months [Reference: Halley D. & Bevanger K. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research 2005-21]. If necessary, live trapping and translocation can also readily be employed (see Management section).

Electric fencing provides an effective deterrent. (Photographs courtesy of Gerhard Schwab)

Overall, experience from beaver introductions in continental Europe suggest that the cost of any impact is likely to be substantially outweighed by the revenue potential obtainable, both directly through nature tourism and indirectly via future recognition of ecosystem services which could generate further agri-environmental support.

Beaver are now present throughout almost all of Europe, having been reintroduced into 24 countries – and including areas of highly intensive agriculture. With adequate management strategies in place, these reintroductions have not posed a significant problem.