Belarus: 1 dead as beaver aggression grows

2013-05-29 14:01
A beaver swims in a pond in the forest near the village of Lovtsevichi, 50km north-west of Minsk, Belarus. (Sergei Grits, AP)

A beaver swims in a pond in the forest near the village of Lovtsevichi, 50km north-west of Minsk, Belarus. (Sergei Grits, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ostromechevo — The fisherman wanted his photo shot with a beaver. The beaver had other ideas: It attacked the 60-year-old man with razor-sharp teeth, slicing an artery and causing him to bleed to death.

It was the most serious in a string of beaver attacks on humans in Belarus, as the rodents have turned increasingly aggressive when confronted by humans after wandering near homes, shops and schools.

"The character of the wound was totally shocking for us medical professionals," recalled village doctor Leonty Sulim. "We had never run into anything like this before."

Once hunted nearly to extinction in Europe, beavers have made a comeback as hunting was banned or restricted and new populations were introduced. In Belarus, a former Soviet nation between Russia and Poland, the beaver population has tripled in the past decade to an estimated 80 000, according to wildlife experts. That has caused beavers increasingly to wander into populated areas, creating more grounds for conflict.

The Belarusian emergency services said that this year, for the first time, they have received a rash of reports of aggression by beavers, which can weigh up to 30kg and stand about a meter high. Officials have responded to some calls by sending out crews to drive away the animals, often by spraying them with water from a fire-hose.

The fisherman, who has not been named at the request of his family, was driving with friends toward the Shestakovskoye lake, west of the capital, Minsk, when he spotted the beaver along the side of the road and stopped the car. As he tried to grab the animal, it bit him several times. One of the bites hit a major artery in the leg, according to Sulim.

Little sporting interest in hunting beavers

The man's friends were unable to stop the blood from spouting, and he was pronounced dead when he arrived at Sulim's clinic in the village of Ostromechevo.

He is the only person known to have died from a beaver attack in Belarus.

Wildlife experts attribute the upsurge in attacks partly to spring bringing about more aggressive behaviour in young beavers that are sent away to stake out their own territory. Largely nocturnal, beavers can also become disoriented during the daytime and attack out of fear, according to Viktor Kozlovsky, a wildlife expert.

Kozlovsky said the large beaver population is beginning to cause significant damage to forests and farms. The Forestry Ministry said it was encouraging the hunting of beavers, once prized for their fur and gland secretions, which were used for medicinal purposes. But since they're such easy targets near dams, says ministry spokesperson Alexander Kozorez, "beaver hunting holds little sporting interest".

"Hunting them is more like work," he said.

Read more on:    belarus  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
14 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.