OGDEN — Officials have found a third beaver contaminated with diesel fuel as a result of a fuel leak at Willard Bay State Park.
DaLyn Erickson-Marthaler, executive director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, said the beaver was found Wednesday evening. It was transported to the rehab center Thursday, where it is being treated for prolonged exposure to the leaked fuel, which coated its body.
The beaver’s skin was irritated, Erickson-Marthaler said, but responded well to a bath.
The two other beavers being treated at the Ogden facility swam for the first time in a bathtub Thursday.
“They seem a little better today,” Erickson-Marthaler said.
Staff members at the center are watching the beavers closely because diesel fuel can cause health complications, she said. The first two beavers had not shown any interest in swimming when they first arrived at the center, but decided to take a swim in a regular size bathtub on Thursday, Erickson-Marthaler said.
The staff is remaining “cautiously optimistic” about the beavers to return to full health. They have not given the beavers names at this time. The animals are receiving medication to combat the diesel fuel they ingested.
As to the gender, Erickson-Marthaler said that determination would require an X-ray, which is something the staff does not want to do at this time.
The first two beavers are about a year old. They are not eating much, but are sampling some of the food offered to them.
“It could be because they were taken out of their environment or because they have ingested diesel fuel and are feeling nauseous and not feeling well,” Marthaler said.
One of the beavers seems to be “a little more spunky” than the other, “but that could be its personality,” she said.
The beavers were rescued from Willard Bay on Tuesday after a leak from an 8-inch pipeline owned by Chevron was discovered.
The discovery was made on Monday and as of Wednesday, 195 barrels of fuel have been collected from 7 acres of the park.
The fuel had leaked into a retention pond but did not flow into Willard Bay, stopped by the beaver dam. It happened north of Eagle Beach, near Cottonwood Campground.
Both beavers were covered in fuel and taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
As of Thursday there were no reports of other wildlife harmed, said Phil Douglass, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Northern Utah conservation outreach manager.
But the DWR is still watching fish, birds and other wildlife in the area for possible contamination, he said.
Anglers come to the bay to fish for catfish and wipers. DWR plants about 200,000 wipers in Willard Bay every year, he said.
The northern marina will remain closed indefinitely, said Deena Loyola, spokeswoman for Utah State Parks.
The south marina is open for boaters, day campers and anglers.