Evidence of beavers on the Earn has resurfaced. A number of gnawed trees have been spotted along the riverbank.
The population of beavers on the Tay river system is causing controversy with many against the unlicensed creatures that have found their way into the watercourse.
However, campaigners insist the animals should be left in their current home and have turned to the Internet to promote their cause.
A Facebook group was started in 2010, objecting to a SNH project to trap up to 20 of the mammals in the region. The group, Save The Free Beavers of the Tay, currently has 1200 members from across Scotland and as far away as North America.
And volunteers from the Scottish Wild Beaver Group (SWBG) have even offered to protect trees that may be affected by beavers in gardens along the river sides.
The group, which aims to work with communities, farmers and landowners to help people live with and enjoy Scotland’s wild beavers, is aware that beavers can sometimes come into conflict with human land use and mitigation may be needed.
Louise Ramsay of SWBG said: “Much as many, though not all, of us love the Tay beavers, we are realistic about the fact that they can sometimes do things that people don’t like very much.
“After all, we know that beavers cut down trees. Most of the trees that beavers cut are willow trees and the like, near water, and they will generally coppice or sucker abundantly the following spring. In fact some people think that beaver saliva may contain some growth promoter as beaver cut seems to regrow particularly well. The short bushy vegetation that grows next to water in the presence of beavers is good for stabilising riverbanks and is excellent habitat and fodder for numerous species.
“However, every now and then a beaver might go into someone’s garden, if it is reasonably close to water, and chop down a favourite tree. They also have a habit of sometimes ring-barking old beech trees. They don’t usually chop them down but they do seem to like eating the bark.”
Louise also said that there can be an upside to the felling of old trees by beavers. She added: “Large standing deadwood is a very important habitat for many kinds of wildlife, the most obvious of which are owls and woodpeckers.”
To prevent beavers chopping down, or killing a tree Louise suggests wrapping it in wire netting. “Rabbit, chicken or sheep netting all work - up to a good height in case the ground level is raised by snow later in the winter.
“It is best to attach the wire to a post knocked in next to the tree, as beavers may pull the wire down if it isn’t pinned up. Stapling the wire to the tree is second best as the wire may become too tight for the tree as it grows, so its best to have a bit of extra space.
“In the case of the ring barked beech, it may still be worth doing when it looks as though it is too late. They seem to be surprisingly resistant to dying as a result of having their bark eaten by beavers.”
If you have a tree that you want to protect but would like some help to do it, contact Scottish Wild Beaver Group on 01828 632992 and volunteers will do it for you.