Friday, August 10, 2007

Beaver Barbarism

I’m used to hearing about animals attacking people, but this is definitely a new one. Apparently, a grandmother was taking a swim in a Swedish river when she was set upon and mauled. Her assailant was not a shark, not a crocodile (you’d be surprised at how rare those are in Scandinavia) and not a polar bear on a snorkeling excursion. Her attacker was a beaver. Now THAT is something that you just do not see every day.

Now, when I am strolling through the woods I try to be on the lookout for predators. The last thing I need is to turn a blind corner, run into one of Yogi Bear’s more irritable cousins and end up in a life or death struggle over the bag of Doritos in my back pack. If I spent any considerable time in the far northern reaches of Michigan, I would probably take some precautions against wolves as well. I would hesitate to trek through the forest without a pack of Yorkshire Terriers on a leash. Yorkies probably are not much good for protection but I bet that in the eyes of a wolf, they would make a great appetizer and hopefully buy me enough time to find a sanctuary or a firearm.

I also give chipmunks a wide berth. I am pretty sure that there has never been a proven case of human meeting his demise beneath the claws of a horde of chipmunks but quite frankly, I don’t trust the savages and do not want to be the first. I am also not a big fan of chickens but I can’t say that I have ever come across any in the wild. I would guess that the feral populations of these birds are probably kept rather low by their natural enemies: foxes, coyotes, raccoons, possums, deep fryers and Frank’s Hot Sauce. I run into their brethren, the ring-collared pheasant, all of the time though and let me tell you, nearly stepping on one of these things during a quiet Sunday-morning sabbatical in the wilderness can result in being overcome with a sense of sheer terror that you would be hard-pressed to match unless you are susceptible to enjoying your holidays in the Sunni Triangle. They wait until you are right on top of them and then they burst towards the sky in an explosion of feathers and fallen foliage while emitting a shrill pulsating shriek that sounds eerily reminiscent of a landing UFO. I would love to hunt these things, not so much out of a love of the sport but mostly to avenge a couple pairs underwear from when I was a kid.

Considering all of the time I have spent in the woods (I do hunt, though not very well. The only thing I have ever killed at deer camp besides bottles of beer and brain cells was a chipmunk who had cut off my escape route and had me cornered), I have never felt threatened by a beaver. They seem to be a rather docile animal and I have had several swim very close to me while I have been salmon fishing. None of them have ever given off bad vibes nor have any ever made any menacing moves in my direction. Still, if you take a really close look at one, I can see how one of these things could wreak havoc on a human if it were so inclined. Like most mammals, they are equipped with claws. Though not nearly as impressive as those found on a bear or a mountain lion, I am sure that they are up to the task of doing a number on the thin human skin. They also have a rather impressive set of teeth for an herbivore, and seeing the short work these animals can make of a tree, I can see how a brawl with one of these things could result in a lost finger or at least a missing nipple.

Either way, I am looking at beavers in a whole new light now and next time I go fishing on the Ausable River, I will probably be packin’.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure the type of beaver the story was speaking of? I know you've been to the Pilliphines. I'm certain there are some beavers there that could, and have, torn a man apart. Granted these beavers are generally weilded by 4 1/2 foot asian women. I have unfortunately never come across one myself,but I hear they are deadly but fun while your $20 lasts.

Me love you long time,SactoRitch

11:02 PM  

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