A PREGNANT beaver has been found shot and killed in Perthshire.

The Scottish SPCA has appealed for information after the grim discovery of the beaver's body was made on a riverbank between Crieff and Comrie.

An undercover officer for the SSPCA special investigations unit explained the beaver had been killed "in a manner that caused unnecessary suffering."

The officer said: "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."

The officer said that the charity would investigate all reports of the killing of beavers "where welfare has been compromised."

On May 1 the Scottish Government brought into force a new regime giving beavers legal protection.

To kill them, or destroy their dams or lodges, people have to be granted a licence by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Wildlife campaigners celebrated the decision, emphasising the widespread ecological benefits of the beavers’ reintroduction, but farming leaders have previously raised concerns about the damage caused to agricultural land from their dam-building.

It is illegal to kill beavers or destroy established dams and lodges without a licence.