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Crews Chase After Fiesty, Elusive Beaver in Rescue Attempt on N. Oregon Coast

Published 04/18/22 at 7:42 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Crews Chase After Fiesty, Elusive Beaver in Rescue Attempt on N. Oregon Coast

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(Gearmart, Oregon) – A run-in with a wayward and endangered beaver had one crew scrambling and in a chase for a time on the north Oregon coast this weekend. Seaside Aquarium staff – part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network – received a call about an otter in trouble on the beach but soon discovered it was simply a regular ol' beaver. (Photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium / Tiffany Boothe unless otherwise noted)

The Oregon coast shoreline is not exactly the habitat for Oregon's symbolic animal, and they can run into trouble being exposed to salt water. So Seaside Aquarium was rather interested in rescuing this little guy from the perils of getting sick.

The aquarium's Tiffany Boothe called it a “feisty beaver” are it gave them the run-around.

“First reported as a sea otter, it took us a few trips up and down the beach to finally locate him,” she said. “He was originally spotted up by Sunset Beach but before we could get to him, he got startled and went back out into the surf. He swam all the way to Gearhart Beach before hauling back out.”

They were able to successfully snap him up at that point and then bring him to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast near Astoria, but the happy ending is still to be written for the wayward Oregon coast beast.

“If all goes well, once he gets a clean bill of health he will be released back into the wild. Good luck little buddy,” Boothe said.

Crews Chase After Fiesty, Elusive Beaver in Rescue Attempt on N. Oregon Coast

Beavers live aplenty in many areas of the state, including the Oregon Coast Range. However, the ocean shore isn't a place they spend much time, and they shouldn't.

“While beavers can tolerate brackish water, saltwater can cause some major issues for beavers, especially if ingested,” Boothe said. “Ingesting too much saltwater can lead to a condition called salt toxicity. Salt toxicity can cause beavers to become lethargic and eventually lead to the animal having seizures. In severe cases this can also lead to death.”

According to a recent study done by Oregon State University (OSU) and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC), there are scores of beaver along the length of the Oregon Coast Range, from near Astoria to down around Brookings.

Beavers are sometimes translocated to restore populations in other areas, to reduce their conflicts with humans, and to utilize their abilities in transforming ecosystems and repairing them. The study two years ago looked at how that works, and discovered there is a healthy diversity in genes along the coast range.

“We wanted to see if there were things that are limiting beaver dispersal in western Oregon, whether they are not able to disperse because of geography or some physical limits,” said Jimmy Taylor, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S.D.A’s National Wildlife Research Center in Corvallis and a courtesy faculty member at Oregon State. “Our findings indicate that doesn’t seem to be the case. They seem to be moving freely within watersheds, with at least occasional movements between watersheds.”

The overharvest of beavers during the 16th to 19th centuries in North America is well documented. This legacy, however, sometimes overshadows the restoration of beaver populations throughout North America in the 20th century.

The study primarily looked at beavers in the Oregon Coast Range, which is an area filled with varied watersheds, dense forests and steep hillsides.

They are a native species, and researchers were pleased to find the wide gene flow.

What's interesting about their presence in these thick forests and abrupt hills is that they are not often seen, not even as much as in Beaverton. Those in the Coast Range are not creating dams on a consistent basis, but there is plenty of activity behind the scenes, said OSU scientists.

According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, beavers around the state also conduct much of their work and activity in the evening and overnight hours, making them even harder to spot.

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