A Saskatoon-native wildlife photographer has dedicated much of his free time to watching and capturing local beaver behavior, but even he couldn’t figure out what this toothy rodent was carrying across the water at first.
Mike Digout has an entire page dedicated to his efforts, documenting these chubby and admittedly adorable creatures as they groom, feed, build their shelters and protect their young. Typically, he can pretty quickly identify what each of these river residents is doing, even specifying between males and females. But one day, while watching from one of his usual spots, Digout had to do a double-take to figure out what exactly this beaver was carrying.
The creature dove deep into the water, searching for elements to make its “scent mound,” which is a pile of debris that beavers place on a rock near the edge of their territory. The rodents mark the mound, signaling to others that this area is occupied.
Soon enough, the hobby photographer realized that the beaver wasn’t carrying any natural material at all.
“As soon as the beaver popped out of the water, I realized that he had a giant plastic bag in his arms,” he said.
But the beaver didn’t seem to mind at all that the bag was of a different material. Instead, he carried on with his customs as normal.
“He just put it down, scraped it up and put his scent on it,” Digout said.
Wildlife Photographer Believes Beaver’s Trash Is Symptom of Environmental Issue
Still, the fact that plastic bags were more readily available than leaves and twigs pointed to a huge issue in Digout’s opinion.
“There shouldn’t be so much garbage in the river that a beaver comes up with some,” he said.
In an effort to raise awareness and perhaps encourage fellow wildlife enthusiasts to help clean up the area, Digout posted the photos to his page.
“I shared the photo in hopes that it would give some people pause to think, ‘Maybe we’ve gotta do better,’” Digout said.
“It’s not an easy solution,” he continued. “But there are a lot of people who care, and hopefully these photos can re-motivate the people who are already inclined to help.”
In the past, Digout has shared clips and photos of fellow beavers creating their own scent mounds. In this case, he came across an old friend he named “Palmer” who was building and marking her own dome. This time, there was no trash in her stockpile of materials.
“This beaver jumped on a rock, left mud and debris, and then sprayed her scent (a mixture of urine and castoreum),” the photographer said. “There were lots of excited spectators on the sidewalk, as you can hear. You can see the beaver’s scent spray when she turns to leave. You will also note that this beaver, who I have named Palmer, has very unique tail damage from an old injury.”