OGDEN — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation credits a beaver dam for preventing a diesel fuel leak from reaching Willard Bay earlier this week, but now its builders are in trouble.
Two beavers, soaked in diesel fuel, were found by cleaning crews working to contain the leak in Willard Creek Tuesday. The leak stemmed from a problem with a Chevron diesel fuel pipeline, and officials believe it was the beavers' dam that stopped the fuel from reaching a nearby wildlife habitat in Willard Bay.
The animals, now being dubbed "hero beavers," were taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah to be cleaned and treated for their injuries. Wednesday, employees said their conditions are still very much up in the air.
"They were dripping with (diesel fuel). The smell was absolutely overpowering," said DaLyn Erickson, executive director of the rehabilitation center.
Employees spent Wednesday evening bathing the two beaver siblings for a second time. They got a good scrub with Dawn dish soap and some antibiotics, followed by a dose of Kaopectate.
Erickson said there's evidence the pair ingested fuel, and the diesel is wreaking havoc on their internal organs.
"Beavers have a very sensitive respiratory system," she said. "Problems could also be neurological problems."
If they survive, the beavers may be orphaned. Their parents, also likely caught in the spill, have evaded wildlife officials thus far. By the time they're tracked down, it may be too late.
"The animal that people complain about building dams, their dams actually saved Willard Bay, which is a critical habitat," Erickson said.
The center received a donation of Dawn and paper towels, but the beavers are still in need of help. They eat trees, specifically Cottonwood and Willow branches, still green and fresh.
If you're doing some yard work and have discarded branches lying around, the rehabilitation center needs them. Call 801-814-7888 for details on how to donate.
Contributing: Jordan Ormond