An investigation has been launched after a pregnant beaver was found shot dead on a riverbank.
The Scottish SPCA said the animal endured “significant unnecessary suffering” before its death.
Since May 1 it has been illegal to kill beavers or destroy established dams and lodges in Scotland without a licence as they now have European Protected Species status.
The beaver’s body was found on a riverbank between Crieff and Comrie in Perthshire around April 23/24.
A Scottish SPCA chief inspector, who cannot be named due to his undercover work, said: “We can confirm we are investigating a report of a deceased pregnant beaver which had been killed in a manner that caused significant unnecessary suffering.
“Legislation to protect beavers was put in place on 1 May and outlines that as a way of minimising the impact on land use in some areas, the culling of beavers can be carried out by licensed and trained persons using humane methods which avoid unnecessary suffering and gives due regard to animal welfare.
“The beaver was shot and could be proven to have suffered significantly before being killed.
“The legislation states that all attempts should be made to protect the entire family group and avoid lethal control during pregnancy or kit dependency period.
“We want to ensure the welfare of beavers in the wild and any dependent young they may have.”
The Scottish SPCA said beavers are a “fascinating species” capable of the intricate engineering of dams and they can have a positive impact on their surrounding environment and ecosystem.
The organisation said it will be investigating all reports of the killing of beavers where welfare has been compromised.
It urged anyone with information to phone the confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
Beavers disappeared from Scotland more than 400 years ago due to human persecution but a project to reintroduce them began in 2009.
There are currently around 450 beavers in Scotland in two separate populations, in Tayside and mid-Argyll.