Sounds completely bogus, and some folks in the "nature is warm and fuzzy" crowd will rise up and claim that beavers don't kill people. These are the same folks who staunchly proclaim that wolves don't kill people. Unfortunately, they grew up watching too many Disney movies and reading books by Farley Mowat.
Well, let's see what this story is all about. It turns out that a 60-year-old man wanted to have his photo taken with a beaver he spotted alongside the road. He stopped the car and approached the beaver. As he tried to grab the animal, it defended its position by biting the man several times, slicing an artery in his leg, causing him to bleed to death.
According to the report, this isn't the first time a beaver vs. human encounter turned out badly for the human. Although this is the first report of a person being killed by a beaver attack, there has been a string of attacks reported, as the beavers have become increasingly aggressive when confronted by humans.
And who can blame them? I wouldn't want some guy stopping his car and grabbing me just because he wanted a photo either. I'm not sure if I would bite him, but I would certainly do everything I could to discourage the fellow. So I'm not blaming the beaver.
I'm also not blaming the wild goat that killed a man a couple years ago on the Klahhane Ridge trail in the Olympic National Park. Nor do I blame the bears, cougars, wolves, deer, elk, moose, or any other wild animal who dispatches a human who is misbehaving in the animal's territory.
What I blame is the stupidity of humans who put themselves in a position to be confronted by wildlife. Sometimes it makes me wonder how we (humans) ever ended up at the top of the food chain. And it only reconfirms my rejection of the Theory of Evolution that has a foundation based on Survival of the Fittest. Humans are NOT the fittest — we are among the most frail, least naturally prepared to survive in a harsh environment. And sometimes we prove to be too stupid to save ourselves, or prevent our own death.
Okay, rant over.
So, here is the #1 rule about human survival when confronted with wildlife. LEAVE THE ANIMALS ALONE!
Don't try to pick them up. Don't try to hug them. They don't want their picture taken with you. They consider you a menace, an intruder, a threat. It's like you've invaded their home, and they have every right to defend it. LEAVE THE ANIMALS ALONE!
Alright, second rant finished.
Seriously, if you want photos of wild animals, use a long telephoto lens. The best wildlife photographers are so adept at capturing their subjects in their natural environment that the animals never even knew the photographer was there. It takes skill and finesse to locate the animal and then sneak into position to take the shot without disturbing the animal. That is so totally different than finding an animal along the road, stopping the car, scaring the crap out of the little beast, then trying to grab it so your buddy can take a photo.
You see the same kind of behavior in places like Yellowstone Park, where a traffic jam clogs the road because tourists screech to a halt and jump out of their cars to approach and photograph some poor animal that just wants everybody to go away and leave it alone.
Humans should follow a certain wildlife etiquette, a code of behavior, when in the back country.
- Unless you're hunting game, don't pursue animals you encounter. Enjoy the fact that they're sharing their backyard with you, and respect that.
- If you're on the same trail as the animal, divert your path rather than forcing the animal off the trail.
- Back off and keep your distance.
- Don't make any threatening moves, such as trying to approach the animal.
- Don't inadvertently attract animals into your camp by leaving bits of food or garbage around. Secure all food and trash in animal-proof canisters.
- Leave your pets at home. A dog might go nuts when it spots a wild animal, giving chase, or perhaps attracting the wild animal toward you (think hungry bear or cougar wanting a bite of Fido).