A group of at least six beavers at a Utah bird refuge have emerged as key players in helping contain a fuel leak that left half of them with severe burns. The Chevron fuel spill leaked about 27,000 gallons of crude oil into soil and marshes at Willard Bay State Park last week after a split in a Salt Lake City-to- Spokane, Wash. pipeline.
The beavers’ dam blocked a hefty portion of diesel from rolling onto the bay, though it’s uncertain exactly how much, officials said. Three of the beavers were rescued earlier this week, and three more that were rescued Tuesday night are being cared for under a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah program.
“That dam absolutely saved the bay,” said Dalyn Erickson, a wildlife specialist running the program. The dam held fuel in place and kept it from going any further, she said.
The beavers that were part of the group rescued Tuesday night had burns on their skin and eyes, and only patches of fur left on their bodies. Erickson said she worries that some of the newly rescued beavers might not survive the fallout from the spill. It’s unknown whether any other beavers might remain near the fuel leak site and have yet to be rescued, officials said.