Dan Wherley thought it was a special moment when he saw a beaver swimming up to his kayak — until it flew into a violent rage.
Now Wherley and his 7-year-old daughter are recovering from a fight to the death with what turned out to be a rabid beaver in the Pennsylvania waterway of Conewago Creek.
Wherley told Fox 43 he and his daughter Kayla were kayaking with their dog when the beaver swam toward his boat.
“And I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool — a beaver came up to us!’” Wherley told the station.
The beaver, he quickly realized, wasn’t friendly. It began biting, chewing, scratching, clawing — anything it could do to try to get at him, he described in a Facebook post.
“I felt something grab my kayak and thought it was my dog, it wasn’t. It was a big ass crazy beaver. It kept trying to bite and get into the kayak after me,” he wrote. “I kept beating it with the paddle, this went (on) for a few minutes. It wouldn’t give up.”
He was able to take some photos and record a quick video clip of the encounter. The video shows the beaver ramming against his boat and biting at his paddle. “Get away, there’s a beaver!” he shouts. Kayla’s shrieks of terror can be heard in the background as he struggles to fight the chomping beaver off.
“It wouldn’t stop, so I used my paddle, tried to hit it to get it away, and it just wouldn’t stop, it wouldn’t stop,” Wherley told Fox 43. He described how he unscrewed the paddle and began hitting the animal with the metal part instead to do more damage.
On Facebook, Wherley described how the beaver took off but then seemed to make a beeline for his daughter’s boat before trying to scramble on top of it. He rushed over and gave it a solid punch into the water, he wrote. Layla made it to shore.
“The beaver is after me in waist deep water, lunging at me, I was punching, kicking and trying to get away from it. I ran to the bank with Layla and it followed me still trying to attack us. I got a big rock and smacked it on the head drawing blood, it still didn’t stop,” he wrote. He gave it more whacks with the rock and more with a stick until it was dead.
His Facebook page still marks the time after the attack: a frantic post asking for an emergency phone number for a game warden.
“There’s definitely something wrong with that beaver,” Wherley told ABC 27. “I’ve seen a lot of animals, I mess with a lot of animals, we’re always playing with them. This one came out of nowhere and wouldn’t stop.”
Something was wrong with it indeed. The Adams County Department of Health confirmed to ABC 27 and Fox 43 that the beaver had rabies. Layla and Wherley got rabies shots as a precaution, according to the stations.
As for their dog?
“Our sissy bloodhound hid safely in the weeds far away during all of this,” Wherley wrote on Facebook.
It’s not the first reported beaver attack. In 2016, a 67-year-old woman said she was attacked and bitten all over by a beaver near Asheville, North Carolina.