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.

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson (they/them) is a longtime cybersecurity journalist who cut their teeth covering technology policy at ThinkProgress (RIP) and The Washington Post before doing deep-dive public records investigations at the Project on Government Oversight and American Oversight.