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.

Biologist find beaver dam so large it’s visible from space

According to The Sun, Biologists have discovered a massive beaver dam in a remote area of a Canadian park that is so large that it is visible from space. Built out of wood, stone, and mud, the dam stretches more than a half-mile in length, and is believed to have been built over a 20 year period.

Located in Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta, the dam stretches more than 2790 feet in length, making it twice the size of the Hoover Dam. Reportedly there are dozens of lodges built along the structure where families of beavers live. It is believed that these families have worked cooperatively over the years to build, repair, and extend the size of the structure.

The huge dam has created an environment that is especially safe for the bucktoothed, aquatic rodents. The dam builds up water around their lodges, allowing them safe passage to and from their homes and keeping predators from coming too close. The beavers that live near this particular dam are safe from the coyotes, wolves, and bears that would normally prey upon them.

The unprecedented size of this particular dam is what has biologists both surprised and excited. The fact that it has grown to a point where it is visible from space demonstrates the communal nature of the creatures that built it, and their ability to construct structures on a massive scale.

Canada can’t handle the The Beaver

Okay, so Canada finally got the joke. The country’s second-oldest magazine, The Beaver (yes, it is SFW), is changing its name. Apparently, according to Reuters, the name has an “unintended sexual connotation.” It’s more than just the jokes, though. Internet filters have blocked access to the history journal because the vast majority of people associate The Beaver with … well, you know.

The Beaver first came to Canada in 1920, published by the Hudson’s Bay Company, which was a fur trader at the time (now it’s a department store chain). Since then, The Beaver has found broader appeal by stretching to include other issues. To reflect this new focus — and get people to stop snickering — the publication’s name will be Canada’s History. This will commence with the April issue of the magazine.

The name change could also come with an increase in circulation. According to Mark Reid, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, “Market research showed us that younger Canadians and women were very very unlikely to ever buy a magazine called The Beaver no matter what it’s about.”

Duh, Mark. Of course they won’t buy a magazine called The Beaver. They’d read it online.

[Photo by stevehdc via Flickr]%Gallery-73517%