Students want to probe beaver deaths

The Associated Press
Saturday February 17, 2001

FOLSOM — An angry horde is demanding answers from state authorities about why eight beavers in Sacramento County have died. 

And the fifth-graders at Oak Chan Elementary School are getting some attention. 

State animal and water officials have agreed to test the water at a pond where the beavers lived and do autopsies on the animals. 

The students say they used to watch the beavers build their homes, but one day noticed that one of the animals had died. Students searching for survivors found seven more dead beavers. 

Students wrote to the state to ask for help in uncovering the reason behind the deaths. 

“I am 10 years old and I want the beaver and all the other animals to live. If you can come test the water quality to see what is killing the beaver, I would really appreciate it,” Julia Cross wrote. 

Researchers from the state Water Resources Control board were at the beavers’ pond Thursday to collect water samples, but Fish and Game experts say they suspect the beavers died from a virus. 

“They are a communal animal. If an infection is viral enough to kill one of them, it could very well have been passed on to all of them,” said Fish and Game spokesman Patrick Foy. 

But at least one student said he suspected foul play by people who didn’t like the beavers chewing trees. 

“I think we kind of cut in on them. People are complaining that they’re cutting down trees. But they were here first,” said Katie Burnett, 11.