Mystery of the Scottish beaver comes to a tragic end

I think these are ghost beavers: But are they sad ghost beavers, or vengeful ghost beavers?
I think these are ghost beavers: But are they sad ghost beavers, or vengeful ghost beavers?Courtesy Lawrence Whittemore
There’s another story in the news about reintroducing wildlife to Scotland.

Unlike that last story, however, this one has heart and a moral. The heart, to be clear, is a beaver, and the moral is this: don’t just go tossing your beavers around, because they might get full of salt water and die. Take that to heart (actually to heart this time, not to beaver).

The story goes thusly:

First, the mystery. Beavers were believed to be on the loose in Scotland in April. Now, here in Minnesota that’s not such a big deal—out of control beavers are pretty much the norm. But in the British Isles, where beavers were hunted into extinction 400 years ago, it’s apparently a horrifying prospect. You see, the punishment for loosing a beaver is two years in prison or a 40,000 pound fine. Fortunately for the Brits, there seemed to be only a couple of beavers to deal with. “They are by themselves,” said the BBC’s beaver expert of the situation, “spring is in the air, [and] they might be looking for mates which they're never going to find.”

Remember, in Britain, “mates” means “friends.” Why couldn’t these beavers ever find friends? What were they running from? Therein lies the real mystery, but the Scottish police became distracted by more superficial elements of the case: “We must capture the beaver to find out if it’s clean and got no diseases,” said constable Douglas Ogilvie.

No doubt everyone just wanted to forget about the case, but that became impossible in May, when a dead beaver was found on a Scottish beach. Despite suggestions that its remaining there might improve the beach, the corpse was removed for the purpose of investigation.

Beaver autopsies being what they are (complicated and time-consuming, apparently), it was only this week (one month later) that the results finally came in: the beaver drank itself to death—possibly because of loneliness—on seawater.

An official program to reintroduce beavers to Scotland was announced last month, but this poor, salty rodent was probably intentionally released by a numbskull working on his own.

“Beavers need freshwater,” points out a local wildlife crime officer, “ and the only open water this one found was the sea. Its stomach was found to be full of water, otherwise it was found to be a healthy animal.”

And so we’ve come to the tragedy portion of our little tragimystery. A little beaver, far from home, set loose like White Fang, only to accidentally poison itself. What a bummer.

Let this be a lesson to you: just because you think something is a good idea doesn’t mean you’re not an idiot. And also be kind to beavers, because they’ve had a rough spring. And, um, don’t put them in salt water.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bert123's picture
bert123 says:

one i didnt know there where beavers in scottland and two i didnt know they did beaver autopsies on them. very interesting though
IBI Call it what you want IBI

posted on Fri, 06/06/2008 - 3:22pm

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