An unlucky beaver in Illinois bit off more than he could chew recently and paid the ultimate price for his bravado when a tree crushed his skull. Outdoorsmen Shanen Pitzer came across the gruesome scene while foraging for morels and shot a brief video of the carnage. Apparently, an area beaver found himself on the wrong end of Darwinism after attempting to chew through a living tree.
At some point during the job, the beaver committed the lumberjack’s cardinal sin: placing himself between the blade and the weak side of the cut. Unfortunately, since his blade is affixed to his mouth, the unlucky beaver bore the brunt of his mistake — squarely on top of his own head.
While instances of beavers accidentally finding themselves under their own felled trees are not rare, the fact that this beaver wedged itself perfectly within the stump (so that the tree never actually fell) makes the video particularly interesting. Pitzer then pans around the tree to show the blood trail running down the backside of the tree.
If you look closely, you can see the beaver’s oversized front teeth jutting out perfectly between the layers of wood; a trophy of Mother Nature fit for the pages of an OSHA catalog.
This tree may have crushed the beaver, but lately the animals have been crushing communities by rerouting water flow
Beavers, once considered just a natural resource for pelts, are now locally protected in many communities; but their increased presence comes with mixed consequences. Beaver dams keep rivers and streams wet, which creates much-needed habitats for other animals. But their migration habits also accelerate climate change, and their dams can threaten entire neighborhoods when water does not flow. Add in increased human development of previously forested areas, and the work of beavers becomes even more magnified.
Rhode Island Highway Supt. Dennis Vadenais said beavers have evolved past the point of nuisance for his sleepy hometown of Cumberland.
“Many yards and properties in town are now dealing with flooding that weren’t before,” he said. “Our staff is monitoring multiple areas where water is threatening to rise too far.”
Vadenais also said the town continues to implement the “beaver deceiver” cages that allow water to get through and prevent full construction of dams. But the town could use more of them, he said, and sometimes they do not work.
Though helpful to an extent, the cage-like devices do not solve all the problems. They need a certain depth of water to accommodate them, and many beavers work so fast that dams spring back up before traps can even prove useful. Still, though, it’s a creative solution to a problem that avoids harvesting the beavers, which now enjoy protected status in many communities like Cumberland.
Now if a beaver accidentally kills itself on the job, that’s another story entirely.