Will Canada dump the beaver?

For more than 35 years, the official national animal of Canada has been the beaver. The creature earned that lofty honor due to its industrious behavior and the importance that the trade in beaver pelts played in the country’s history. But now, if one Canadian Senator gets her way, the beaver may be replaced as a national symbol with another animal – one that is also closely associated with Canada.

Last week, Senator Nicole Eaton made an impassioned plea to her colleagues asking them to consider changing Canada’s official animal to the polar bear. Calling the beaver “a dentally defective rat,” Eaton said the creatures are a nuisance, citing her own issues with the beasts gnawing on the dock at her lakeside cottage. She went on to argue that the polar bear has “strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity,” qualities which would make it the perfect symbol for Canada.

Environmentalists have been quick to criticize the suggestion, saying that Eaton’s Conservative party supports environmental policies that could spell the end of polar bears before the 21st century is over. Eaton countered by saying that Canada has an excellent track record for managing its polar bear population, demonstrating its commitment to the endangered creatures.

It’s too early yet to know if the rodent will be replaced with the ferocious predator, but this is essentially akin to the U.S. dumping the eagle in favor of another animal. There is sure to be all kinds of discussion, both for and against.