Beaver - trout interactions

As with all (re)introductions of species, the case of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) is generating much heat in the UK media from many angles: conservation, fisheries, natural flood management to name but a few. There are now several trial schemes in place spanning from the Tamar in Devon to Tayside in Scotland.

The majority of questions we at WTT get asked regarding beavers involve passage issues for wild trout around dams. While any ecological interaction between two species is inherently complex and influenced by locality and flow regime for example (in this particular case), we should remember that beaver and trout have co-evolved for millennia and coexist in many locations throughout Europe. However, the landscape throughout much of the UK where they might formerly have coexisted, prior to the extirpation of beaver, has changed considerably and is now subject to a suite of environmental pressures from humans that could influence the outcomes of any current interaction. We have reviewed the scientific literature and numerous reports from other organisations. Click on the links below to read the summary paper or full paper:

Wild Trout Trust beaver-trout interactions: summary

Wild Trout Trust beaver-trout interactions: full report

Note – neither report considers management options in any detail. At the time of our review, the publication of The Eurasian Beaver Handbook: Ecology and Management of Castor fiber was imminent and it contains the most comprehensive overview of management issues by one of Europe’s leading experts, Róisín Campbell-Parker. Interim management advice is available from Scottish Natural Heritage.

WTT Conservation Officer for the South West region, Mike Blackmore, sits on the Fisheries Forum for the Devon Wildlife Trust Beaver Trial. The role of that forum is to ensure that fish and fisheries stakeholders (e.g. angling clubs) are engaged throughout the study and have the opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns.