“Ukraine credits local beavers for unwittingly bolstering its defenses” – TTG

Ukrainian servicemen from the Volyn Territorial Defence brigade are seen on their positions near the border with Belarus, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Volyn region, Ukraine, on January 12, 2023. Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Local beavers are helping Ukraine defend itself from a potential new front in Russia’s invasion, Reuters reported on Thursday. The animals are unwittingly helping Kyiv by building dams that keep the ground marshy and impassable, a military spokesman told the agency. This helps Ukraine by making it less likely that an attack could come via Belarus, which borders Ukraine not far north of the capital Kyiv.

Ukrainian officials had warned that Russia may wage an offensive through its ally Belarus into a region of Ukraine called Volyn. Defense forces there, however, have been reassured by conditions on the ground, left impassable by miles of burst river banks, thick mud, and waterlogged fields. The swampy conditions have given Ukrainians an advantage, and time to prepare: a local military unit called the Volyn territorial defense has been conducting daily training exercises in the area, according to Reuters.

Its spokesman, Serhiy Khominskyi, praised the beavers, which he told Reuters were more working unimpeded, unlike in other years. “When [the beavers] build their dams normally people destroy them, but they didn’t this year because of the war, so now there is water everywhere,” he said. Viktor Rokun, one of the brigade’s deputy commanders, told Reuters: “On your own land, everything will help you to defend it — the landscape, lots of rivers, which have burst their banks this year.” 

The unusually mild winter has created ideal conditions for Ukrainians to defend their country. Analyst Konrad Muzyka, who runs the defense consultancy Rochan Consulting, told Reuters that Volyn would be a “horrible place to conduct an offensive operation. There are many watercourses there, very few roads,” he said. “This makes it easy for Ukrainian forces to channel the movement of Russian forces into specific areas where they would be shelled by artillery.”


Comment: Sure this is more a human interest or moment of nature story than a war update, but it caught my eye because I just discovered the beavers are back in the small stream behind my house. We had an established family of beavers when I moved here in the mid-90s. They were a source of enjoyment and never bothered anybody. The first winter here, I watched them glide under the ice from their lodge to the far side of their small pond. They are graceful creatures in the water. I would often sit by a tree and quietly wait for them to appear at dusk and start to work. The quiet sitting and watching in the company of wild creatures is great medicine for body and soul. 

Several years later the juveniles started building dams further down the stream, but still lived with the one remaining parent in the old lodge. One family in the neighborhood complained that the dams were flooding their basement. It was bullshit. The water was never anywhere near the level of their basement. The problem was a faultily installed basement window that leaked in the rain. I learned that our proto-HOA at the time had the beavers removed. I threatened to burn the whole goddamned development to the ground. I didn’t, of course, but I left them with a final epithet, “And the Karela, the bitter karela, shall cover you all!”

The last I saw those beavers was one night when one juvenile was tenderly caring for the remaining parent streamside while the other juvenile was tending to the dam. Animal instinct? Sure, but I saw God’s divine mercy and sacred love that night.

So finally the beavers are back. Their dam and pond seem situated well enough to avoid arousing the fear of other surrounding home owners. Let’s hope it stays that way.


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16 Responses to “Ukraine credits local beavers for unwittingly bolstering its defenses” – TTG

  1. Whitewall says:

    TTG, a nice story. The ‘great medicine for body and soul’ is healthy, plus, thanks to the beaver’s work, you can more easily spot any loose Russians trying to cross the wet ground.

  2. Pat Lang says:

    European beavers do not generally build lodges but the DO build dams.

  3. Bill Roche says:

    I used to own a house on a small lake about 25 miles s.w. of Plattsburgh. About 6PM, like clock work, one or two beavers would leave their lodge and swim across the lake. I wondered, who taught them to tell time. The lake froze up by January and ice out was not until late April. The lodges and beaver stayed. In spring they began their swims again. Nature or God’s hand at work? What is god? I dunno, but t’was beautiful to see. The house burned down, hit by a lightning bolt. Sold off the land. The lake has been invaded by an aggressive Chines weed. It will destroy the lake eventually. Damned Chinese.

  4. TV says:

    Your first problem is living in a place with an HOA.
    I owned a condo once, never again.

    • TTG says:


      As far as HOAs go, ours is quite benign. Compared to living in on-post housing, our HOA is downright libertarian.

  5. Leith says:

    The waterlogged lowlands on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border are already a formidable barrier against invasion. Bucky Beaver and crew will make it even more challenging – not just for armor but for light infantry also. It’s Francis Marion swamp fox type country, good for partisans or for special forces with mud buggies.

    I haven’t seen a beaver in the wild for about 70 years. But I still distinctly remember on a dawn morning seeing a huge beaver slapping his tail when our squeaky oarlocks tipped him off to our presence. It almost sounded like a gunshot. My cousins and I were returning from an all-nighter fishing for perch and hornpout with bamboo poles and lanterns. Great times! My Aunt Clarissa cooked them up that very same morning along with eggs and fried potatos. Delicious, better than bacon. I can still taste it seven decades later – and can still hear that tail slap.

  6. jerseycityjoan says:

    Great story. Thanks.

    The Ukrainians certainly need all the help they can get.

  7. Stefan says:

    I had seen evidence of beavers in the local DMV area, but never actually saw one until this summer. I was walking along the C & O path and saw one. I was able to walk next to him whilst he was swimming, some 5 yards from him. I walked next to him for 100 yards or so. I was rather surprised. The ones that I used to see when I lived in Alaska did not allow you to get nearly that close. I am wondering about natural predators in the DMA area. In Alaska it was the brown bears mostly I think. I once saw one across the river tearing apart a beaver den. Now I just need to head to southwest VA and try and see some of the elk that are there, re-introduced years ago after being hunted out long ago.

    • lee aikin says:

      People in the DMV usually like nature and wildlife. They tend to not like guns and hunting, except for deer which do cause a bit of auto damage due to overpopulation. Also damage to plants, such as my beautiful hostas. Grrrr!

  8. d74 says:

    Why bother with tanks, IFV, ammunition and fuel and all that?
    Give them beavers…

    But, dams and water everywhere?
    No worry: add 1 rubber boat for 5 beavers . Ratio to be refined.

    One last thought for the road:
    Besides, you can eat it. And the fur is warm. Useful in these weather.
    With beavers future is bright.

  9. Fourth and Long says:

    TTG needs to be watched. He was once an intelligence officer. His reference to Beavers is not, in my opinion, to be taken at face value. He is a friend of science And the inexplicable. Is this a reference to Apr 5th? We as yet have no opinion.

    Depending on the price and quality of the hat, the size of the beaver pelts, and the richness of the felt, a single hat needed between 1 to 5 full-grown male pelts for its production.
    https://digital.library.mcgill.ca › nwc

    History – Beaver and other pelts
    8 Facts to Celebrate International Beaver Day
    Beaver teeth are orange. …
    Beavers are one of the few animals that modify their habitat. …
    Beavers don’t just build dams. …
    Beavers slap their tails on the water to indicate danger. …
    Beavers eat wood! …
    Beavers are the largest rodents in North America.
    More items…•Apr 5, 2019
    Will a beaver chase you?

    Do Beavers Attack Humans? Beavers are not dangerous if left alone. However, they will stand their ground and confront a threat. If trapped or cornered, a beaver will attack a human.
    https://www.crittercontrol.com › are…
    Are Beavers Dangerous to Humans, Pets, or Property? – Critter Control

    Beaver God of Beavering Away

    You might say he’s the God of Storage, as he loves packing things away neatly ready for the winter months. But he’s not averse to a bit of well-intentioned thievery. See Snoqualm. Among the Lakota he is known as Capa.Aug 18, 2018
    https://www.godchecker.com › BEA…
    Beaver – Native American Mythology – Godchecker.com
    Beaver fur was superior for hat making because these spines are prominent on its inner wool. Much like modern Velcro, this fur characteristic was exploited in the creation of felt. Hatters differentiated the quality of felt used in construction and hats made exclusively from beaver were designated castor.
    aver (v.)
    late 14c., “assert the truth of,” from Old French averer “verify, confirm, prove” (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *adverare “make true, prove to be true,” from Latin ad “to” (see ad-) + verus “true” (from PIE root *were-o- “true, trustworthy”). From 1580s as “affirm with confidence.” Related: Averred; averring.
    Thus: Beaver …. Be Aver. Mystifying.
    How do beavers warn of danger?
    Voice and Sounds. Beavers use their tails to warn others of danger by abruptly slapping the surface of the water. Beavers have several vocalizations, including churrs, mumbles, whines, snorts, and hisses.
    https://icwdm.org › species › rodents
    Beavers – Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management
    Beavers (genus Castor) are large, semiaquatic rodents of the Northern Hemisphere. There are two extant species: the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) and the Eurasian beaver (C. fiber). Beavers are the second-largest living rodents after the capybaras. They have stout bodies with large heads, long chisel-like incisors, brown or gray fur, hand-like front feet, webbed back feet and flat, scaly tails. The two species differ in the shape of the skull and tail and fur color. Beavers can be found in a number of freshwater habitats, such as rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They are herbivorous, consuming tree bark, aquatic plants, grasses and sedges.
    Temporal range: Late Miocene – Recent. Miocene: 23 million to 5 million yrs ago.
    Castor (star), a star in the Gemini constellation
    Castor, one of the Dioscuri/Gemini twins Castor and Pollux in Greco-Roman mythology.
    Why was the beaver symbol chosen?

    The Hudson’s Bay Company put four beavers on the shield of its coat of arms in 1678 to show how important the hard-working rodent was to the company. A coin was created – which was known as a “buck” – that was equal to the value of one male beaver pelt.Jun 5, 2020

    Beavers increase biodiversity and provide salmon habitat

    Beavers are known as ecosystem engineers because they create, significantly modify, and maintain habitat and ecosystems, and they consequently have a large impact on the biodiversity of an area.Jan 11, 2018
    https://kingcounty.gov › environment
    Environmental Benefits of Beavers – King County
    Well, everyone knows I despise religion. Nonetheless I searched for evidence of beavers in the Bible. Unsuccessfully. Here’s an excerpt below which tries desperately to make a connection. From an old manual on converting the Injuns?

    I see the Hoover Dam is very low on water. Desperately low according to old colleagues out west. Solution? In his benevolence and mercy, Jod sent rip-roaring cyclonic atmospheric river systems to inundate California. Did the big guy miss by a few hundred miles? Surely he cannot smile on the sinners in Las Vegas.


    Scripture describes the quality of life in the Kingdom of God, when Jesus Christ returns to the earth. God says, “I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41:18). In the beaver, God has created and programmed with instinct a furry hydro-engineer to serve His creation. Leclair’s example illustrates what can be accomplished by working with God’s creation, rather than against it.

    So, let us appreciate this symbol of Canada, the industrious beaver—an environmental superhero whose work stores water for other life forms, protects the ecosystem from drought, filters water pollutants, opens forests for new growth, turns desolate areas and small streams into fertile meadows, and restores ground water.

    • Bill Roche says:

      So we should just “leave it to beaver?”

      • Fourth and Long says:

        Bill Roche,
        Very interesting. Very.
        B e a v e r … B- eave -r
        L e a v e … L — eave.

        Are we talking E avenue – or an overhanging roof segment?

        Or Eva E? Reverend A.E.B – who is he? Reverend … Ever Rend?

        It’s simpler to say – what are the odds that “beaver” and “leave” agree in 4 consecutive subsequences of letters AND that they were 2 out of 4 words of a hit TV series of the golden age?

        Anyone have Wally’s Mom’s phone number?

  10. Fourth and Long says:

    Well well. This by Doctor { }issinghere tells me one thing: the West knows it can’t win.
    { } missing letter is: M, P, H, F, D, J ..
    My vote is … .

    That’s good news for Russia, of course, but also indicates potential terrible cost. The mannikin Henry K is known for backing losing sides in horrendously savage escalations. He wasn’t Doctor Strangelove for nothing.

    You don’t start “negotiating” like this if you’re winning. Only purpose is to threaten and use his “Made Man” credentials and gruesome reputation to intimidate. Timing is a giveaway.


    Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger advocated for Ukraine’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    “Before this war, I was opposed to membership of Ukraine in NATO, because I feared that it would start exactly the process that we are seeing now,” Mr. Kissinger said remotely at a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The idea of a neutral Ukraine under these conditions is no longer meaningful. I believe Ukrainian membership in NATO would be a[n] appropriate outcome.”

    Ukraine applied for NATO membership in September.

    Mr. Kissinger’s comments echoed points he made in an article in The Spectator magazine last month, in which he argued for establishing a ceasefire in the Russo-Ukraine war along the pre-invasion lines of contact.

    Describing a plan by which the war could conclude, Mr. Kissinger Tuesday said that such a suspension in fighting “is the reasonable outcome of the military actions but not necessarily the outcome of a later peace negotiation.”

    Neither Russia nor Ukraine has displayed particular zeal for opening negotiations. While Moscow has preconditioned talks on Ukraine’s recognition of Russian territorial gains, Kyiv has demanded that Russian troops abandon the Crimean Peninsula and all other Ukrainian lands before meaningful talks may begin.

    Near-term negotiations would “keep the war from becoming a war against Russia itself,” Mr. Kissinger said, cautioning against provoking instability within Russia, given the country’s large nuclear-weapons arsenal. Talks would give Moscow “an opportunity to rejoin an international system.”

    Mr. Kissinger, 99 years old, was instrumental in establishing Cold War détente with the Soviet Union as secretary of state in the 1970s.

    “I believe in dialogue with Russia while the war continues, an end of fighting when the prewar line is reached,” he said Tuesday. “I believe this is the way to prevent the war from escalating by raising issues beyond those that existed at the beginning of the war and making them subject to a continuation of military conflict.”

  11. TV says:

    Off-topic, but….
    Anyone familiar with a “think tank” CEPA?
    Center for European Policy Analysis.

    • TTG says:

      I’ve heard of it, the Center for European Policy Analysis based in DC. I’m sure I’ve read some of their stuff, but I don’t know anything about them beyond their strong Atlanticist stance.

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