Russia: Beaver dam causes road to cave in

Road washed away due to beaver dam Image copyright NTV
Image caption The beaver dam led to the road being completely washed away

A busy stretch of road in the Russian Urals has caved in, apparently because of damage caused by dam-building beavers.

Engineers in the Sverdlovsk region first thought a pipe under the road had collapsed, washing it away, Moscow's NTV television reported. But during the repair work, it soon became clear the culprits were beavers who had blocked the pipe while building a dam. The weight of water trying to get through the pipe apparently caused the road to collapse, opening up a 4m (13 ft) pit in the middle of the route.

One expert tells the ITAR-TASS news agency the disruption was probably caused by younger beavers. "Young individuals build dams and settle in new places," biologist Pavel Kosintsev says. "There's only one way to protect communications from these animals - put iron bars over the pipes."

Kosintsev blames incidents like this one on the thriving beaver population. "Beaver pelts used to be very sought after, and the animals were regularly hunted," he says. "A few years ago there was a sharp drop in the price of beaver pelts and the hunter's interest in the animals stopped."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Beaver numbers have increased after the price of pelts collapsed

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