A beaver that was apparently shot and sheared has been found on Broughty Ferry beach.
The animal’s carcass was spotted washed ashore by a dog walker last month.
It is believed the animal had been shot and skinned before being thrown in the river.
As of May, beavers are a protected species in Scotland, making it is illegal to kill the animal or destroy established dams and lodges without a licence.
More than 400 beavers are believed to be living in Tayside, more than three times the amount in 2012.
Beavers first appeared in the region 12 years ago after they escaped or were illegally released from captivity.
But several reports of beaver’s being persecuted unlawfully have emerged in Tayside, despite the protection.
A dog walker, who spotted the animal, said: “I was walking the dog on the beach when I came across the dead beaver but was shocked to see it had been shot and skinned. It looked like it had been washed ashore.
“You could visibly see the bullet hole in the poor thing and it was quite shocking to see, especially as they’re meant to be protected animals.”
In June, a dead beaver was discovered on the beach with suspected damaged to its legs and a dead, pregnant beaver was found shot near Crieff at the start of May.
Beavers can cause issues for Tayside farmers since their release into the region as they are said to undermine river banks and block drainage.
Landowners can obtain a “lethal control” licence from the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
But in Perth last week, TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham called on tighter legislation to prevent landowners using loopholes to cull the creatures.
He said the landowners’ applications must be heavily scrutinised to prove beavers are causing damage to human interests.
Sarah Robinson, Director of Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Beavers have been a protected species in Scotland since May, this means it is illegal to harm or kill one except under licence. However, further investigation would be needed to determine what has happened to this particular animal.
“If anyone finds a dead beaver they should report it to Scottish Natural Heritage. If there is any suspicion that a wildlife crime has taken place, they should contact Police Scotland.”
Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of Wildlife Management, said: “Beavers hugely benefit biodiversity and are a protected species in Scotland. Anyone suspecting an offence has been committed should contact Police Scotland.
“The legislation is clear that killing beavers in Scotland without a licence is a crime. All licence holders have attended a beaver control training workshop and must adhere to strict conditions on animal welfare when operating under the licence. SNH have worked with a range of partners, including the Scottish Government, farming and conservation bodies, to set up a scheme to provide free, expert advice and practical support to anyone whose land is affected by beavers.”