The first minister has promised a government investigation into NatureScot after The Ferret revealed it permitted nearly 50,000 wild animals to be killed.
Nearly 50,000 wild animals spanning 84 species have been licensed to be killed by Scotland’s wildlife agency in recent years, The Ferret has found.
Landowners will be prevented from mass shooting of mountain hares and salmon farmers face controls on sonic seal scarers - but beavers will still be killed.
The number of seals shot by the fish farming industry has doubled ahead of a proposed government ban, prompting fears of a “killing spree”.
The Scottish Government agency responsible for protecting wildlife has licensed the killing of 130,000 wild animals in the last five years.
Landowners and farmers are licensed to kill more than 1,300 brown hares every year during the breeding season, prompting accusations that their young will be left to starve to death.
Special licences allow protected species in Scotland such as hedgehogs, mountain hares and birds in decline to be killed or disturbed.
The number of mountain hares in the eastern Highlands has dropped by more than 99 per cent since 1954, according to a new study - prompting calls for urgent action to protect the species.
The full extent of culling of mountain hares in Scotland has been revealed by The Ferret, with up to 38,000 killed a year.