Monday, April 15, 2013

Enough blame to go around

Humans are so often enablers of bad animal behavior. Sometimes only the animals suffer, and we can't be entirely blamed for their poor choices. But sometimes, we're our own worst enemies. A recent example of each out of Eastern Europe:

-In a Russian nature preserve there are bears who are addicted to sniffing jet fuel. They'll wait for a helicopter to take off so they can run and sniff the few drops it leaves behind. Then, as the photographer explains the photo above:
The bear will spend a long time sniffing into the smell and will even roll on his back on the ground there. After a while he will dig a hole in the ground, lay down in it with his belly up to the sky, and will stay for a while in this "nirvana" position.
-In Belarus, a man was recently killed in a beaver attack. If this seems implausible, you don't read this blog throughly enough: we've seen a number of unprovoked attacks by beavers. But in fact, in this case, the victim has no one to blame but himself. This isn't clear in all of the news coverage of this incident, which includes the typical naturalist making excuses:
"The beaver is not normally aggressive, but it does have big teeth and immensely powerful jaws; it can cut down a tree three feet wide." Mr Shilinchuk said there was a chance that the animal was rabid, or that it was a young beaver seeking new territory after being forced out by its parents. It was also possible that it had lost its home as waterways rose with the onset of spring.
 But pay attention and you'll find this crucial point in that article in The Telegraph, describing what the three fisherman thought was a good idea when they encountered a rodent with jaws that can cut down a tree:
"One of them went up to be photographed with it, and the animal attacked him and bit him twice, cutting an artery in his thigh, before running away."
My italics, and I think, enough said.

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