Busy beavers can get a lot of work done, but sick beavers require around-the-clock attention.
DaLyn Erickson and volunteers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden have been spending up to 16 hours a day caring for six beavers exposed to diesel when a Chevron Pipe Line Co. line fractured at Willard Bay State Park and dumped more than 27,000 gallons of the toxic substance March 18.
The care required made it impossible for Erickson, who serves as executive director of the center, to complete plans for the 4th annual Wildlife Baby Shower fundraiser. The event was expected to raise about $25,000 and would help keep the facility in operation.
Officials from Chevron have provided a check for $25,000 to cover the expected loss of the fundraiser. This money is in addition to the $10,000 Chevron gave the wildlife center last week to handle the expenses of caring for the beavers in the early days of treatment.
"This is a huge relief," Erickson said. "But I don't want to give people the impression that we are set for the year. This simply covers what we thought we might make. We are also losing the opportunity to connect with the public. We are a volunteer-based organization, and without the fundraiser we don't get the exposure and draw volunteers."
With the help of Chevron, the center is working on a project to modify an indoor rehabilitation room to support the long-term recovery of the six beavers, dubbed as heroes because the ponds created by the beaver dam complex slowed the flow of the diesel and prevented it from reaching the reservoir.
The first three beavers arrived at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah the day after the spill. Erickson said the initial three animals are doing well. The center has put out a call for the public to suggest names for the trio.
"We are seeing some fun personalities emerging in each of them. They are building little lodges in their cages," she said. "We have some tiny hurdles to jump, but I'd like for them to go back to the wild soon."
Erickson wants the trio to be released together and will wait until all three are ready.
Another three beavers, believed to be two yearlings and an adult female, were rescued eight days after the spill and are not faring as well. Erickson said they remain in a critical and sensitive condition.
"We are seeing a lot of problems with them. They are doing better, but they are not out of the woods yet," she said.
The latter three had their nasal passages burned by the diesel, making breathing difficult. Because the animals ingested the fuel, they have some digestive issues, which are slowly turning around.
Skin and undercoat problems are also of concern.
"They have these pockets of pus under their skin and they each lost probably close to 80 percent of their undercoats," Erickson said. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them."
How to help
P The nonprofit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah is asking the public to make donations online at wrcnu.org and to deliver willow and cottonwood cuttings to 1490 Park Blvd. in Ogden.