A fisherman was attacked and killed by a beaver after the man tried to have his picture taken with the animal, the U.K.’s The Telegraph reports.
The beaver bit the man twice on the thigh, severing an artery, the piece reports. The attack took place in Belarus.
“The 60-year-old former serviceman, who has not been publicly identified, bled to death before an ambulance could reach him near Minkovichi in Brest region,” the story reports. “Eurasian beavers are common throughout much of Eastern Europe but attacks are rare and fatal cases are almost unheard of, experts said.”
Sergei Shtyk, the deputy head of the region’s wildlife inspectorate, said the victim and two friends encountered the beaver during a fishing trip, and the victim approached the animal.
Said Shtyk: "It was early morning and already light when they saw a beaver by the road, which was unusual because beavers are nocturnal. One of them went up to be photographed with it, and the animal attacked him and bit him twice, cutting an artery in his thigh, before running away.
"The man’s friends tried to bandage him and find a doctor in a nearby village but he died from blood loss before help arrived."
Another official, Sergei Shilinchuk, deputy head of Brest’s environmental protection committee, said this was the worst beaver attack he had heard of. "People have lost fingers — that’s the worst I’ve come across," Shilinchuk said. "The beaver is not normally aggressive, but it does have big teeth and immensely powerful jaws; it can cut down a tree three feet wide."
Belarus has reportedly seen a rapid increase in its beaver population in the past five years. “There are thought to be up to 80,000 of the animals in the country as a whole,” the report notes. “Demand for their fur has dropped off sharply since its Soviet heyday, and current levels of shooting and trapping are not enough to keep the population in check.”
Shilinchuk added: "We’re making efforts to stimulate commercial use of beaver meat but that hasn’t taken off yet.”