Residents along Water Street East in Port aux Basques had an unusual visitor on Friday, Aug. 10, when a young beaver was spotted walking along the sidewalk.
As there no ponds close to the town, George Anderson grew concerned about the animal being so far from its natural environment in the 30 degree heat they experienced that afternoon.
Anderson grabbed his mop and walked along with the animal, going up and down the street for 10–15 minutes to ensure it did not wander onto the road and get hit by a car. The beaver initially hissed at Anderson but displayed no other signs of aggression.
George’s wife, Shirley Anderson said the beaver was so big, “one guy thought he was a cat. A big cat. But he was too big for a cat. “
She also said the beaver had a notch missing from his tail and that her neighbours speculated that might have something to do with it being found so far from fresh water.
“They said that he (the beaver) was probably banished from his family,” Shirley said. “They say that when there’s a piece missing from his tail, he was lazy and his parents threw him out. That might just be an N.L. saying, I don’t know. I’m from Scotland.”
George managed to guide the beaver into his own driveway, where it crawled into the shade under his car and took a long nap. Shirley believes the beaver was likely exhausted.
“I think he was walking around for awhile,” she said. “He was tuckered out and he got under the car and laid there for two-and-a-half hours before anybody came and got him.”
Shirley characterizes her experience contacting the various agencies as “frustrating”. The Andersons called their neighbour, Claudine Neil, who came over to take some pictures and help contact various agencies. Neil also wondered what the beaver was doing in downtown Port aux Basques.
“Our understanding is they don’t like salt water but Water Street runs along the ocean and we don’t know how else it could have gotten here,” Neil commented.
Shortly after 3 p.m. town employees Alex Hodder and Philip Roberts arrived with a large dog cage and captured the beaver within 15 minutes.
“They just put him in a cage and went off with him,” Shirley attested. “They said they were going to put him in a pond up on the highway.”
Neil echoes Anderson’s complaint that getting anyone to rescue the animal was frustrating.
“The reason I called animal welfare in St. John’s, it’s 30 degree heat, this thing is obviously out of it’s element, it was tired, exhausted.” Neil said. “One of the issues the people were saying, is that you’ve got all these kids out.
“They (beavers) are not mild mannered creatures. They can be quite vicious. It’s wandering around with kids playing outside and you really don’t know what could have happened. Does this not occur to anybody from all these agencies? It’s just like pass the buck, pass the buck, pass the buck.”
In response to The Gulf News’ request for comment on why a beaver would be found so close to salt water, and far from any freshwater ponds, John Tompkins, director of communications for the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, responded with the following e-mailed statement:
“Beavers are territorial and individual, usually juveniles will leave their natal colonies to locate suitable habitat and establish new colonies. In the process, the animal may subject itself to a variety of stresses including coming in contact with people in unpredictable locations. It is not uncommon for a beaver to use the ocean as a mode of transport.”
In response to the question why it might take Wildlife officials awhile to deal with animal in distress calls, Tompkins wrote:
“Wildlife control responses by Conservation Officers are dependent on the nature of the call and the location of the response required. Response to ‘problem animals’ is a process of physical removal and relocation where appropriate to do so. The department discourages human activities that affect animal behavior, such as feeding or removal of young.”