By Zak Stone
Europe, hide your kids: the beavers are coming. And their teeth are sharp.
In recent years, the furry and surprisingly aggressive critter has made a comeback on the continent as people have stopped hunting them as much, either because of increased regulation, or from boredom with the sport, or both. This is particularly true in Belarus, where, according to The Guardian , "the beaver population has tripled in the past decade to an estimated 80,000."
As the population increases, the animals spread out into more urban or suburban areas, clashing with humans in a spate of recent attacks, including a deadly one on a 60-year-old fisherman. The Guardian reports:
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 to have his picture taken, it bit him several times. One of the bites cut a major artery in his leg, according to Sulim. [...] He is the only person known to have died from a beaver attack in Belarus.
That's probably because most people know better than to reach out and grab a wild animal, no matter how cute and furry it is. But some of them aren't even that cute to begin with:
"Belarusian emergency services said they have received a rash of reports of aggression by beavers, which can weigh up to 30kg (65lbs) and stand about a metre (3ft) 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."
(Emphasis my own.)
Proper precautions are recommended for anyone summering in Belarus this year.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.