AN INITIATIVE which could see beavers living wild in Scotland for the first time in 400 years has approached its final hurdle, it emerged yesterday.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is to ask ministers next month for permission to import a colony of beavers from Norway.
The organisation is hoping to set the European beaver free in Scotland in spring 2003, if the project gets the go-ahead from the Scottish executive.
It wants to import 12 beavers as part of a five-year trial, which would pave the way for a full-scale re-introduction.
The main aim of the project, based at Knapdale Forest in Argyll, is to study the ecology of the beaver in the Scottish environment and assess the effects of beaver activities.
If the executive allows the project to go ahead early next year, the beavers would be brought from Norway next September and quarantined for six months.
Landowners and the National Farmers' Union of Scotland have expressed concern at the move, as they believe the animals could damage the environment and industry.
The European beaver was hunted into extinction in Scotland in the 16th century
© The Scotsman, 29 th December 2001
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