<strong>Canadian internet outage attributed to beaver</strong>
(Image: Jeremy Hynes via Unsplash, illustration: The Record)
Andrea Peterson June 14, 2022

Canadian internet outage attributed to beaver

Canadian internet outage attributed to beaver

Some residents of northwestern Canada lost network coverage for eight hours last week in an outage that has since been attributed to nature’s architect: the beaver.

BC Hydro official Bob Gammer told CTV an aspen tree knocked out a Telus fiber optic cable strung along power lines, but the fallen tree had the telltale gnaw marks of Canada’s once-endangered largest rodent. 

But beavers are not just an official symbol of the country’s sovereignty — they are a known threat to its telecom infrastructure. 

“It’s unusual, but it does happen every once in a while,” Gammer told CTV. “So I wouldn’t be a rich man if I had a nickel for every beaver outage, but they do happen.”

A similar incident occurred in April of last year, DatacenterDynamics reported, when a beaver chewed through a Telus cable and used related material in its dam — temporarily downing network coverage for 900 residents in the process. 

Telus did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the recent outage, but the beaver’s assault continues a long tradition of animals messing with the cables humans put where they live. 

Sharks, for instance, have long been known to have a taste for the submarine cables that make up a major part of global internet infrastructure. Back in 2014, Google was even reinforcing its undersea cables with a “kevlar-like” material after repeated shark bites, per Network World.

Some security practitioners have also long argued that squirrels represent a more practical threat to powergrids than cyberattackers. In fact, for several years the website Cyber Squirrel 1 tracked power outages attributed to critters. 

The site stopped counting back in 2019, but by then it had tracked over 2,500 incidents of animal related blackouts — roughly half of them squirrel-related.

Andrea (they/them) is senior policy correspondent at The Record and a longtime cybersecurity journalist who cut their teeth covering technology policy ThinkProgress (RIP), then The Washington Post from 2013 through 2016, before doing deep dive public records investigations at the Project on Government Oversight and American Oversight. Their work has also been published at Slate, Politico, The Daily Beast, Ars Technica, Protocol, and other outlets. Peterson also produces independent creative projects under their Plain Great Productions brand and can generally be found online as kansasalps.