Belarus beaver misrepresented

The stirring story of a beaver attack leading to the death of a fisherman in Belarus was picked up by western media yesterday, indicating growing concern over the bold creatures. What is surprising to us is that a month-old story of foolish behaviour leading to a tragic end is so newsworthy in the eyes of the media.

The article states that “a string of incidents” was capped by this most serious attack. It does not mention any other incidents, noting only that one unnamed source indicated that there have been a “string of incidents.”

Further, it fails to relay the importance of the action leading to the attack. A local fisherman was diving with friends; he saw a beaver on a trail and thought it would be a good idea to get up close and personal with the wild animal to get a photo. The beaver, clearly disagreeing with this idea, bit the man several times in self-defense. One wound nicked a major artery and, sadly, the man bled to death.

While the media went to great lengths to discuss the potential danger of the family-oriented water mammal, it failed to ask the penultimate question: is trying to cuddle with a wild animal a good idea?

We know that the media will often – and quickly – turn to sensationalism when wildlife conflict is at hand. Beavers are typically mentioned only when perceived threat to property damage occurs. Our work with municipalities on beaver flow devices has successfully ended much of that concern.

In the case of this non-news item, we can only hope that readers are able to see the facts behind this montage of half-truths.


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