The Eurasian or European beaver has been added the list of European Protected Species of Animals, protected under Scottish law. The dams and lodges that they create are also protected under the rules that came into force on 1 May.
Shooting will only be allowed under licence, which will be managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
The plan had been announced in February by Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham. She said at the time: “There are few species that have such a significant and, largely positive, influence on the health and function of our ecosystems. The importance of beavers to Scotland’s biodiversity is huge.
“However, we recognise that beavers can have a significant impact on farming, particularly in areas like Strathmore, which is why we have been working closely with farmers and partner agencies to establish management plans, as well as a licensing system for culling when there is no other alternative.”
Beavers became extinct in Britain in the 16th century, mainly due to over-hunting. However, between 2009 and 2014, 16 Eurasian beavers were successfully introduced to Knapdale Forest, Argyll and Bute. It was the first successful reintroduction of any wild mammal to the UK. Further, unregulated releases of beavers were made in Tayside, where the population now stands at around 500.