Beaver attacks New York kayaker, knocks him into the water

Beaver attacks New York kayaker, knocks him into the water

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(CNN/WHAM) -- A beaver jumped out of a New York creek and attacked a man in a kayak, knocking him into the water last Tuesday.

The victim, Michael Cavanaugh of Lima, N.Y. is recovering after being treated in the hospital for bite wounds on his back and deep puncture wounds on his arm. He is also being treated for rabies as a precaution. BayCreek Paddling Center trainer Nate Reynolds saw part of the attack.

"I heard my name called out from the shop and I ran out the door to see a guy getting pulled into the water," Reynolds said, describing the attack. "It was like watching a horror film."

Reynolds said Cavanaugh was able to get to his feet and approach the dock, but the beaver would not let go of him, so Reynolds hit the beaver with a nearby paddle several times.

"The paddle broke and the beaver let go," he said. "He kind of disappeared for a few seconds but came back up so I hit him again."

The center temporarily closed after the incident to try and find the beaver. Eventually the beaver's carcass was discovered and is now being tested for rabies by animal control.

"It's absolutely first of a kind," said Ken Altfather, who has owned and operated BayCreek Paddling Center for more than 20 years. "I think the rarity of this is the main thing, the beaver was upset for some reason, we don't know."

According to New York Department of Environmental Conservation Biologist Art Kirsch, although extremely rare, Beaver attacks on humans do occasionally happen.

Kirsch said that beavers generally aren't aggressive toward humans and are vegetarians. Most beaver attacks on humans, he added, come from beavers infected with rabies, or beavers trying to protect their offspring.

The recovering victim of the attack, Michael Cavanaugh sent the following statement about the incident:

"In general I feel like you do after having surgery. My body is focusing on healing the wounds. I've slept quite a bit. Though the event was scary I haven't felt much in the way of traumatic emotional reactions which I'm thankful for. As a matter of fact I feel a lot of gratitude to God. First, that my injuries were not worse. Second, that the beaver did not attack Terri who would have been severely hurt as she was a great distance from the dock. Third, that I was surrounded by so many helpful people."
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