Campaigners fear the government is drawing up plans to trap and cull beavers - just months after the first confirmed sighting of wild beavers in England in centuries delighted environmentalists.
They are warning that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) risks sending beavers "back to the stone age", despite successful attempts to reintroduce them to Scotland in recent years.
In February a beaver family was caught on film in the River Otter in Devon, but now the government has asked Natural England to investigate the population of the animal in the area, potentially because of the threat of a rare parasitic tapeworm found in European beavers.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said it was "absurd" to kill beavers in one part of the country while reintroducing them elsewhere, but the government insisted it had no plans to cull beavers.
"We are working out plans for the best way forward and any decision will be made with the welfare of the beavers in mind,' a Defra spokesperson said.
Read more here.