A man in upstate New York has been hospitalized after being attacked by what appears to be a very angry beaver. A trainer at the BayCreek Paddling Center at Irondequoit Creek heard the Michael Cavanaugh's cries for help was able to dislodge the "upset" beaver from the kayaker, perhaps saving him from an even worse fate than the mauling he had already received.
"I heard my name called out from the shop and I ran out the door to see a guy getting pulled into the water," he told WHAM. "It was like watching a horror film."
He went on: "The paddle broke and the beaver let go. He kind of disappeared for a few seconds but came back up so I hit him again."
Cavanaugh received bite wounds to his back and deep punctures to his arms. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was hospitalized and treated. As a precaution, he is also being treated for rabies.
Ken Altfather, owner of BayCreek Paddling Center, said of the beaver attack, "It's absolutely first of a kind." He has operated the Center for two decades. "I think the rarity of this is the main thing, the beaver was upset for some reason, we don't know."
New York Department of Environmental Conservation Biologist Art Kirsch says that beaver attacks on humans are generally rare and driven by territoriality and protective instincts, with the occasional attack driven by rabies.
The beaver itself was eventually found, its carcass floating in the creek. It was sent to animal control for rabies testing.
Victim Michael Cavanaugh is now recuperating from the beaver attack. In an email, he told WHAM: "In general I feel like you do after having surgery. My body is focusing on healing the wounds. I've slept quite a bit. Though the event was scary I haven't felt much in the way of traumatic emotional reactions which I'm thankful for. As a matter of fact I feel a lot of gratitude to God. First, that my injuries were not worse. Second, that the beaver did not attack Terri who would have been severely hurt as she was a great distance from the dock. Third, that I was surrounded by so many helpful people."
Cavanaugh can count himself fortunate, because an angry beaver attack last year resulted in the death of a man in Belaru, according to Sky News, who was simply attempting to take the animal's photo.
The beaver attack on Cavanaugh was the second recorded in a week. According to the Star Ledger, a couple strolling beside Lake Surprise in New Jersey were chased by what they say was an angry beaver, the little beast nearly sinking its teeth into Barry Rubinstein. However, wildlife specialists say that there are no beavers at the location, although there are otters.