Beware The Beaver

TO WIT

February 13, 1994|By DAVE BARRY

Today's topic -- and we wish to stress that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the Clinton administration -- is Beavers in the News.

Here at the Center for Being Alarmed, we have been monitoring the beaver situation for more than two years now, and we feel that the time has come to alert you, the public, to what is going on, so that you can take appropriate action in the form of whimpering in terror.

Let's review the sequence of events, bearing in mind that we are not making any of these events up; they all were reported in actual newspaper items sent in by many alert readers.

We will start with 1992, when authorities in Chelmsford, Mass., in an effort to control the beaver population, decided to have veterinarians give the beavers vasectomies. The New Haven Register stated: "The beavers will be enticed with tasty bark to swim into traps . . . . Female beavers will be released, but males will be held and vasectomized."

At this point, the question you are asking yourself is: "How does the New Haven Register know the bark is tasty?"

Anyway, while authorities in Chelmsford were vasectomizing male beavers, authorities in Colorado were attempting to implant Norplant contraceptive devices in female beavers. This effort was covered extensively in the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.

The highlight of this effort occurred when authorities invited the press to a Denver veterinary hospital to witness the first beaver implant, which was to be performed by Dr. David Robinson. Everything was ready: The cameras were rolling, and the sedated beaver was on the operating table. Robinson made one final examination, and then announced: "It's a male."

The News published a wonderful photograph of this event, showing Robinson with his arms around the beaver, groping his (the beaver's) private region, looking concerned.

"The problem with beavers is, their sexual organs are drawn way up inside their body cavities," explained Robinson, in a statement that will elicit strong beaver envy from any male human who was ever pedaling a bicycle hard when the chain broke.

Now we move to 1993, during which the following news items were published (we are still not making any of this up):

The Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review reported that a beaver chewed through a 100-foot tree, which fell on a "passing wood-chip truck," causing about $2,000 damage. The Spokesman-Review reported that "The driver and police were laughing over the incident, with jokes flying about the beaver ambushing the truck in order to get at the tantalizing wood chips."

The Associated Press reported on a lawsuit in Chippewa Falls, Wis., resulting from an incident wherein "a beaver chewed through a tree, causing it to fall on a fence, allowing Holstein heifers to escape from a pasture and wander onto some railroad tracks." Eight heifers were killed by a train.

The Winnipeg (Canada) Free Press reported that a 71-year-old outdoorsman was sitting on the tailgate of his pickup truck when he felt a sharp pain. "He looked down," reported the Free Press, "and realized a large beaver had sunk its teeth into his left leg." Fortunately -- and let this be a lesson to those who would limit the rights of citizens to keep and bear hockey sticks -- the man had a hockey stick. "He beaned the beaver several times until it clamped on to his hockey stick with its teeth," stated the Free Press.

So the pattern is clear: The beavers are striking back. Perhaps you are not concerned about this. Perhaps you live in an urban area, and think you're safe from attack. Consider the following item from the Dec. 15, 1990, installment of the syndicated feature Ripley's Believe It Or Not:

"In the 1950s, beavers were dropped by parachute in California to build dams in areas threatened by erosion!"

That's right: Beavers can be dropped from airplanes. They could land anywhere. And please do not be so naive as to try to tell us that the government would not do such a thing. The government is perfectly capable of suddenly deciding to drop mass quantities of beavers on urban areas, especially if an economist suggests that this might create jobs.

So that is the situation. Nobody is safe. What can you do? You can be on constant alert. You can carry a hockey stick at all times, even to work. Perhaps your co-workers will laugh. Perhaps your boss will want to have a word with you.

Perhaps he will beg like a yellow dog for your help when he feels the Chomp of Doom on his ankle.

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