Naturalists beaver away at love

The team behind a trial to reintroduce beavers to the wild is playing cupid to a lone female whose previous partner died.

A two-year-old male beaver was released 10 days ago into Knapdale Forest in mid-Argyll.

The male, which was brought over from Norway, takes the number of

resident wild beavers in Scotland to 12.

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The Scottish Beaver Trial, being carried out by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, is a five-year pilot project to see how beavers cope in Scottish habitats and assess their impact.

Beavers are a native species to the UK and were a common sight before they were hunted to extinction in the 16th century.

Trial staff released the new male beaver on September 14 at the loch where the solitary female has settled, in the hope that they will eventually form a new breeding pair.

Before the release, the immediate area was marked with the male's scent to encourage the female to welcome him. Project staff are now said to be monitoring his movements closely.

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The trial's project leader Roisin Campbell-Palmer said:"Over the next few weeks we would hope that there will be clear signs of acceptance as the pair get to know each other.

"Although breeding won't take place this year, we hope they will build a lodge together which would be a good sign that they intend to remain together."