Estonian text posted by Animal of the Year Team 23.06.2019
The young beaver had a 13-minute lead on the bear
Young beavers that will be two years old in early summer will leave the family home in early spring to start an independent life. They need to find a suitable free water body and to set to work immediately. Life without a nest lodge and burrows for hiding is dangerous. Particularly when the water level is low and water scarce. All at once, it is necessary to fell shrubs, build a dam, dig burrows and hope for good luck. All big predators would be happy to meet such an unprotected young beaver. Most of the young beavers have as yet no partner. Everything has to be done on one’s own.
Sometimes the first attempt fails. Then you have to start immediately to look for a new opportunity without losing hope.
The trail camera images show how the bear disturbs the plans of the young beaver. The beaver started to build a dam in the main ditch of the drainage system in March. A few decades ago a stream bursting with biodiversity flowed here, now just a little muddy water dribbled at the bottom of the ditch. The beaver thinks that with hard work it would be possible to restore the former stream. Unfortunately April was dry and the water behind the dam rose slower than expected. Half by chance on May 27 late in evening a young bear came to observe the struggles of the beaver. Last winter he had wintered alone for the first time. Managed nicely. All Mummy’s teachings were well remembered. Observing the beaver he remembered the previous hot and arid summer when he with his brother and sister and led by the adult bear demolished nest lodges and burrow shelters. The work was rewarded with a bellyful of splendid meat.
It is difficult for a young bear to get meat. The first attack failed and the beaver escaped. The bear had to start scratching open the sheltering burrows. It is difficult to work as well as survey the surroundings. Particularly when experience is lacking and you are alone. So the beaver succeeded to escape from the low-level water body which was no good for diving and slipped away unnoticed. As the trail camera clock shows it had a 13 minutes advantage on the bear..
This time must be used wisely and well. Meeting the bear on dry ground would leave the beaver no chance.