Scores of beavers will be humanely removed from riverbanks across Tayside under new species protection laws.
Since May 1, it has been illegal to kill the animals, or to destroy established dams and lodges, in Scotland without a licence.
In the first four weeks since the protections came into force, Scottish Natural Heritage has received licence applications and proposals for the relocation of up to 50 beavers in Tayside to new homes across the UK.
A total of 12 have already been successfully transferred to places such as Knapdale in Argyll, Devon and Yorkshire, where it is hoped they will help with flood prevention and create new habitats.
The nature body has also received applications for 29 permits to remove dams, with “lethal control of beavers” as a last resort.
SNH said it was working with licence holders to explore all avenues, in the hope it can avoid any deaths.
The authority said no beavers had been shot under licence to date — as far as it is aware — since the law went live at the start of May.
Denise Reed, SNH’s area manager for Tayside and Grampian, said: “We will continue working with farmers, landowners and managers, conservation bodies and a range of interests to ensure that we all learn from experience and realise the benefits that beavers will bring to Scotland, while providing support to those who are experiencing problems with the effects of beavers on their property.”
She said there were a number of ways in which SNH helps farmers and others affected by beavers and their dams.
“Firstly, we can look at whether work can be done on the ground to minimise any problems,” she said.
“This includes measures such as installing specially designed water gates, beaver deterrent fencing, soft engineering on river banks and flood bank protection.
“We have also made sure that any lethal control is done as humanely as possible by requiring that it is only carried out by individuals who have received SNH training.”
She said any suggestions of unlawful shooting were taken “very seriously” and SNH will work with Police Scotland to investigate all reports.
“Taken together, we are confident that our approach will not affect the continued expansion of the Scottish beaver population and the positive impacts they can bring to other areas,” she said.
“We will continue to carefully monitor both the use of licences and of the Scottish beaver population to ensure we achieve this aim.”
The Scottish SPCA made an appeal for information earlier this month after a pregnant beaver was shot and killed in Perthshire.
The animal’s body was found on a riverbank between Crieff and Comrie.
SNH said at the time that the killing would be an offence under the new legislation if it was found to have happened after May 1.