Caring for diesel-burned beavers taking toll; rehab center seeks funds, gifts

Mar 29 2013 - 6:27am

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Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
A ditch is pumped out Thursday in a Willard Bay area affected by the diesel spill. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Heavy machinery is parked Thursday next to an area affected by the spill. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (The Associated Press)
Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (The Associated Press)
Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
A ditch is pumped out Thursday in a Willard Bay area affected by the diesel spill. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Heavy machinery is parked Thursday next to an area affected by the spill. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (The Associated Press)
Beavers affected by the diesel spill in Willard Bay are suffering from chemical burns in their eyes and on their skin. Workers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden are treating several beavers, but the work demands are forcing the center to cancel its annual fundraiser, the Baby WIldlife Shower, which was set for April 26-28. Center officials hope the community will step up with monetary donations and gifts from its needs list. (The Associated Press)

To donate

Those interested in donating to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah can do so at its website at wrcnu.org, in person at 1490 Park Blvd. in Ogden or by mail to
3127 N. Pelican Drive, Farr West, UT 84404.

OGDEN -- An undisclosed amount on a check without the required number of signatures was donated by Chevron on Thursday to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah.

Once the check receives its second signature, DaLyn Erickson-Marthaler, a wildlife specialist running the center, said it and other payments she's expecting from the company will help meet the center's increasing need.

"If we have enough support in the community, we can handle it," Erickson-Marthaler said. "It takes a village."

She said the costs of rehabilitating six beavers that were affected by a Chevron diesel spill at Willard Bay on March 18 have stressed the organization, requiring three volunteers to work 14 hours a day just to take care of the sick animals.

Erickson-Marthaler said the health toll for people in this effort also has been great.

All volunteers in the vicinity of the animals became ill each of the three times new beavers were brought in from the spill site.

"We went home with body aches and flu-like symptoms and just not feeling well," she said. "And we were just breathing it."

She and others told of extreme damage to the animals' digestive systems as well as great losses of hair and burns to the animals' skin and eyes.

But the total price went higher when she and other volunteers realized they'd have to give up their annual fundraiser, the Baby Wildlife Shower, which was set for April 26, 27 and 28, in order to care for the animals in crisis.

"We would still love for people to look on our needs list and make donations," Erickson-Marthaler said. "People would bring items off our needs list as shower gifts for the babies."

Erickson-Marthaler said the center also will need funds to build a larger beaver habitat so the six animals can be released from their cages into a more open environment until they are ready to move on.

"This will take a toll on us long term," she said.

And for the six beavers now being rehabilitated at the center, their prognosis is completely dependent upon when they arrived.

For three that got there early, within two days of the spill, the prognosis looks good.

"Everything is progressing pretty well," Erickson-Marthaler said. "We are feeling pretty confident that they will be able to be released into the wild."

But for three that came in Tuesday, the prognosis is not so good. Those beavers all remain in extremely critical condition, Erickson-Marthaler said.

"It's easy to clean the outside," volunteer Derek Brown said. "You have to medicate them to take care of the inside. ... It's just too early to tell what's going to happen."

Judging by how she and other people felt after breathing the diesel fumes, Erickson-Marthaler said she can't imagine how the beavers felt while they were living in it.

"There was no place else to go. They were forced to eat it, drink it and sleep in it."

Three administrators with the Division of Wildlife Resources looked in on the beavers Thursday morning, even holding some of them.

Scott Walker, a habitat program manager with DWR, said officials have found some dead animals in the area where the spill occurred, but that was all he knew.

However, Walker, a biologist by trade, said he did know enough to speak optimistically about the long-term effects of the spill.

"The long-term effects will not be so bad," he said, noting that vegetation that was being cut back will regrow and migratory birds likely will return once the area is cleaned up.

"The habitat is very resilient," he said.

Erickson-Marthaler said one silver lining has been the increased exposure for the center.

On Thursday morning, four new volunteers were there learning the rules before starting their first shift.

Among those there for the first time was a 13-year-old girl who was giving up part of her spring break to help.

Erickson-Marthaler said she's hoping people who are now trimming their trees will donate green branches of aspen, willow and cottonwood for the beavers to eat.

She's also hoping for financial contributions from the community to make up for the canceled fundraiser.

"This is a crisis situation," she said. "We take in 2,000 animals a year. ... We need support. This is a community effort."

The facility is the only such center in Northern Utah.

The state's other such centers are in Price, Mapleton and Kanab.

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