Bedeviled by beavers?
Read a news story this week that made me think.
The headline got my attention: “Beaver Bites Man To Death In Belarus Attack.” The piece reported on a guy who went on a fishing trip with two friends to Lake Shestakov. When they spotted the animal on the side of the road, they stopped so that he could take a picture.
But as he approached the beaver it pounced on him, biting him in the thigh. His friends attempted to stem the flow of blood from the wound but the animal’s bite had severed a main artery and the man, who came from Brest, bled to death.
Pretty sad and gruesome.
Beaver attacks are rare and, according to experts, those animals that go after humans are usually rabid.
Recently, a video was posted on YouTube showing a man in the Tver region, northwest of Moscow, running away from a beaver that charged at him as he was filming.
Last year in the United States two girls were mauled by a beaver in a lake in Virginia as they swam. And you probably remember last August a Boy Scout leader from New York was attacked by a rabid beaver while swimming in the Delaware River.
Also, we had stories in summer 2011 about a beaver attacking three anglers in Philadelphia's Pennypack Creek.
So it is pretty clear the world's second largest rodent can be a menace. But honestly, as a young guy, I had no idea.
When I was a kid we wet-waded waters with impunity such as Centre County's beautiful Black Moshannon Lake – where we often saw beavers – fishing for panfish, pickerel and bass. I saw signs the animals were nearby, but it never occurred to me they might attack me.
And later, with my young son in the front of an old, beat-up canoe powered by an electric motor, we occasionally chased beavers around the lake on summer's evenings when the water got glassy. (Probably politically incorrect to admit that these days.)
The beavers would let us get to within 10 or 15 yards, before they would slap their tails on the water – making a sound like a gunshot – before diving beneath the water and disappearing.
My son would giggle with delight. I didn't realize the beasts could be dangerous.
Hell, looking back, we used to seek out beaver lodges to fish near. The deeper, shadowy water around them always seemed to hold fish.
One of my favorite places to fish in the 1970s was the upper section of a Blair County trout stream that we simply referred to as the "Beaver Dams." We often saw beavers there, going about their business.
Suppose I'm lucky to be here telling you about this. But perhaps I was better off not knowing.