Beavers Save Wildlife Refuge from Oil Spill

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Beavers Save Wildlife Refuge from Oil Spill

From Earth in Transition
March 2013

The one good thing in yet another in a string of oil leaks is that the beavers have saved the day for thousands of birds and other animals in the wildlife refuge.

Humans get quite whiny and complainy about beaver dams that get in the way of whatever it is we think we want to do. But they're a vital part of the ecosystem – unlike human dams, which almost invariably destroy ecosystems.

After a Chevron diesel pipe broke last week north of Salt Lake City, it could have been a disaster for the nearby Willard Creek Wildlife Reserve. What saved the day was a beaver dam.

beaver dam oil spillWhen cleaning crews came upon two beavers, soaked in diesel oil, on Tuesday, they realized that it was their dam that was holding the oil back in Willard Creek and stopping it from pouring downstream into the bird sanctuary of Willard Bay.

The brother and sister, hailed as "beaver heroes" in the Utah media, are now at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, but they are by no means out of the woods, "dripping" with diesel fuel according to the people at the rehab center. Their skin and eyes are burned, they've lost much of their fur, and they'd swallowed the oil, too. They're being washed regularly and have been given Kaopectate and antibiotics for their internal troubles.

Whether the two beavers will survive is still uncertain. And the rest of the family, including their parents, have not yet been found.

The one good thing in yet another in a string of oil leaks is that the beavers have saved the day for thousands of birds and other animals in the wildlife refuge.

Humans get quite whiny and complainy about beaver dams that get in the way of whatever it is we think we want to do. But they're a vital part of the ecosystem – unlike human dams, which almost invariably destroy ecosystems.

So a lot of people now realize that the beavers deserve a big round of thanks.