Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 16:42 UK

Dead beaver discovered on beach

A beaver
Beavers were hunted to extinction more than 400 years ago

A police investigation has been launched after a dead beaver was found on a beach in the Highlands.

Its body was discovered at Eathie on the Black Isle in April.

Northern Constabulary's wildlife crime officer, Ch Insp Paul Eddington, said it was not known at this stage how the animal came to be there.

Once native to Britain, they were hunted to extinction more than 400 years ago. It is illegal to release beavers into the wild.

Ch Insp Eddington said: "Beavers are not currently found in the wild in Scotland so it is unknown where it has come from at this stage.

"The releasing of animals that are not used to the conditions is not only cruel but illegal."

"The fact that the animals are known not to like saltwater, which is where it was found, would make it appear that it was unfamiliar with the environment it found itself in."

He added: "We are appealing to anyone who may know the origins of the beaver or who may have seen the creature to contact police in Dingwall.

Last month, further evidence was discovered to suggest beavers were being illegally released into the wild in Scotland.

Damaged trees were recorded in Perthshire, Angus and Fife, and it is thought the animals could be to blame.

Plans to officially reintroduce beavers into Argyll are being considered - but conditions have to be controlled.

Last year an illegal beaver was caught in Perthshire. The punishment for the crime is up to two years in jail or a 40,000 fine.

The beavers have apparently been released near Forfar in Angus and near Aberfeldy in Perthshire.

Beavers believed to be on loose
18 Apr 08 |  Tayside and Central

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