Beavers Take Blame for Poland Floods

May 26, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Rescue teammembers make their way in the flooded district of Sandomierz, central Poland, on May 19. Poland Interior Minister Jerzy Miller has accused beavers of being partially to blame that resulted in 15 deaths and nearly 2.5 billion euro.  (Janek Skarzynski/Getty Images)
Rescue teammembers make their way in the flooded district of Sandomierz, central Poland, on May 19. Poland Interior Minister Jerzy Miller has accused beavers of being partially to blame that resulted in 15 deaths and nearly 2.5 billion euro. (Janek Skarzynski/Getty Images)
Floods that caused at least 15 deaths in Poland could cost near 2.5 billion euro (US$3 billion) in damages. At a time when responsibilities, if any, are yet to be determined, Poland Interior Minister Jerzy Miller has accused beavers of being partially to blame.

"The greatest enemy of the flood defenses is an animal called the beaver. Beavers live all along levees on the Vistula River and cause a lot of damage to them," Jerzy Miller said.

According to the Polish government, roughly 20,000 beavers inhabit Poland’s rivers, and are a protected species. Beavers were endangered in the 1950s, but have since rebounded because of a successful breeding program.

Pawel Fratczak, Poland's national fire brigade spokesman explained to reporters, "Beavers dig tunnels in the flood defenses, weakening them from inside. But they are not alone, there are also water voles."

Estimating damages

According to Miller, some dikes broke due to the accumulation of water and to holes made by beavers, inundating several cities in southeast and central Poland.

Initial financial assistance of 2 billions zlotys (US$592 million) was announced on by the government on Tuesday.

"We have created a large deposit of 8 billion zlotys (US$3.37 billion). We know that this does not need to be so large, we therefore can have 2 billion zlotys available immediately [to] help those who have lost their homes," Tusk said at a press conference.

Tusk emphasized that the public debt would not increase as a result of the help provided to victims. His government also plans to ask the European Union for “financial aid for repair and rebuilding, including for 'kilometers of levees," reported Business Week.