3 beavers from Willard spill doing OK, but mother and 2 babies struggling

Published: Wednesday, April 3 2013 5:00 p.m. MDT

Volunteer Jennifer Runsvold carries a beaver to receive his medication Tuesday, April 2, 2013, as staff at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden work with the six beavers that were affected by a diesel fuel spill in Willard Bay.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

OGDEN — Three of the six beavers harmed in last week's Willard Bay fuel spill are making progress and are expected to fully recover.

“We are hopeful that in the next month the three will be released into the wild,” said DaLyn Erickson, the executive director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. “They will have to be released somewhere else but we are confident that together they will be OK.”

But a mother beaver and two of her babies who were rescued later than the others are still struggling. While the mom is expected to survive, the fate of her kits is up in the air.

“The younger two are having some internal problems and their undercoat is literally coming out by the handfuls,” Erickson said. “They had some pretty severe burns and we’ve got some skin irritation and infection pockets, so we are dealing with that.”

Still, Erickson says the staff and veterinarians are hopeful that the babies will survive.

She said that the cost of taking care of the beavers has put a strain on the center’s normal operations, including the care and rehabilitation of its 150 other animal residents.

While Chevron has written an initial check of $10,000 to the center to cover the estimated costs of taking care of the beavers, and pledged to cover the lost contributions from the center’s canceled annual fundraiser, the center is still struggling.

But when asked if it was worth it to dedicate so many resources to these six beavers, Erickson was quick to answer.

“This is what we do. This is why we’re here,” she said. “Ninety percent of the animals that are brought in to us are here because of human impact. If humans are going to cause this harm, we need to make sure we have a place to fix it.”

Should it become clear that the two baby beavers are not going to live, however, she said the center will euthanize them, so as not to prolong their suffering and waste precious resources.

Jay Holcomb, executive director of the International Bird Rescue, said those questions are the same that his organization weighs in determining how to use resources in the face of low, unknown, or unquantifiable survival rates.

“You need to ensure that your time and your resources are being put towards the ones who have a chance,” Holcomb said. “If you can help these animals, great. If not, be smart about it.”

All of the beavers are receiving heavy doses of antibiotics and several hour-long baths each per day. Community members have also come through to provide the beavers with clippings from their favorite trees.

“It’s the community that is pulling us through,” Erickson said.

The center is also looking to the community to submit names for the three healthiest beavers, because “we’re feeling good enough about their outcome,” she said.

E-mail: mmellor@deseretnews.com

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