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Beaver gets evicted from West Linn yard


Police secure the animal that is reluctant to leave water feature

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A snapshot of the beaver after it was captured in the wheelbarrow.West Linn Police Officer Al Bunch had dealt with plenty of animals on the job — dogs, deer, raccoons — but never a cranky beaver.

Until this past Saturday, that is, when officers Bunch and Nick Amendolara received a call from 5530 River St. about a potentially injured beaver that was lunging at cars. Upon hearing that initial report, Bunch assumed the animal was gravely hurt and would have to be put down.

Yet when Bunch and Amendolara arrived on the scene, the beaver had fled to a small water feature in the front yard at the home of West Linn residents Kevin Harper and Jackie Ritchie. The animal did not appear to be injured, but the officers still had to move it back to the nearby Willamette River.

Bunch was charged with snaring the beaver with a wire attached to the end of a pole, and he made sure to keep his movements slow and steady. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - West Linn Police Officer Al Bunch attempts to snag the beaver on the end of a pole without hurting it.

“If you move fast around animals, they get freaked out,” Bunch said. “I tried to make the pole a part of the water.”

When he finally caught hold of the beaver, Bunch was immediately struck by its strength.

“I can’t believe how strong this guy is,” he thought after snaring the beaver.

The furry intruder was a fighter, lashing and kicking as Bunch attempted to drag it gently from the water and into a wheelbarrow.

“Was there fear for myself? No,” Bunch said. “Worry that it was going to jump out of the wheelbarrow? Yes.”

Harper pushed the wheelbarrow while Bunch held the beaver on the pole. All the while, Harper and Ritchie’s son, Maverick, lived up to his name and chased behind for a closer look.

“He thought it was great,” Ritchie said. “He’s fearless.”

In the early going, before the police arrived, Harper and Ritchie were more cautious. Harper had heard a story about a fatal beaver attack that happened recently in Europe, so he knew they couldn’t get too close. Only when the animal was secured did they put their guard down — a precaution Bunch greatly appreciated.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Once secured in the wheelbarrow, the beaver was released into the Willamette River.

“They did right by it,” Bunch said. “They kept kids away, they pretty much left it alone and called us.”

At long last, the beaver was dropped into a large pipe that led directly down to the river. Whether it will return is yet to be seen, but there are signs that it had been on the property longer than a day. Harper and Ritchie found bite marks on a small maple tree near the water feature, and the beaver’s reluctance to leave provided further indication that the animal had enjoyed its stay.

Harper and Ritchie have seen their fair share of animals on the property, and even had an otter in their backyard three years ago. But, as it was for Bunch, the beaver incident was a first for the family.

“It’s always exciting when you have a 6-year-old boy,” Ritchie said. “It was exciting; it wasn’t scary.”

“We get a little wildlife every day in this neighborhood,” Harper added.

And as proud fans of the Oregon Ducks, Harper and Ritchie did not miss the irony of the situation.

“We let ducks in,” Ritchie said. “But not beavers.”