Authorities are seeking answers after a father and son on a bird-spotting walk found four beavers shot dead with a bow and arrow.

The Capital reports that Bowie residents Matthew and Chris Perry were participating in an Audubon Society bird count on New Year's Day when they came across the slain rodents on a frozen pond.

Matthew Perry speculated that someone from a nearby housing development became irritated that the beavers were gnawing away at the trees.

Officials with the Maryland Natural Resources Police say trapping of beavers is permitted this time of year, but killing a beaver by any means other than trapping is against the law.

Local police also expressed concern about the danger of bow-and-arrow hunting near a residential area.

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Information from: The Capital