Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Beaver’

This week, I am attending the Localizing California Waters conference that is being held just outside Yosemite National Park and is organized by a group called Watershed Progressive. It is a great event and I have been learning a lot and meeting some really passionate people in the water world of California.

One of the talks I attended was about beavers and their role in ecosystems and habitat restoration (which is huge!). But one part of that talk was a particularly crazy story that I wanted to share. It is about parachuting beavers! And yes, this is a true story!

As humans expanded into new areas in the 1940s they began to run into beaver conflicts. One growing community in Idaho had a problem with a particular community of beavers that were routinely damaging houses and other property. These humans complained about this beaver community, and eventually it came to the attention of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Beavers are native to the western USA, but they had been largely hunted out during the 1700s and 1800s for their fur. Therefore, there were large areas of the Idaho wilderness that had been beaver habitat, but had no beavers. This gave the Idaho Department of Fish and Game an idea for a solution to the human-beaver conflict. Take the beavers, and move them into some remote wilderness areas. But, this raised a problem: how were they going to get beavers into these remote areas? The answer? Drop them out of planes!

Crates, each containing a single beaver, dropped with parachutes into the Idaho Wilderness. Photo: Boise State Public Radio.

That’s right, in 1948, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game constructed a bunch of specially designed crates that would hold a beaver and protect it as it dropped through the air, and then would break open when they hit the ground. The crates also had parachutes attached to them.

A beaver emerging from its opened crate after a parachute-assisted landing. Photo: KTVB 7.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game then safely trapped the beavers that were causing problem for those humans. The result was a total of 76 captured beavers. These beavers were loaded into the specially designed crates, the crates were loaded on to planes, the planes were flown out over remote areas of the Idaho wilderness, and then the crates with their beaver passengers were dropped out of the planes and allowed to float down to the ground below! The first beaver to be dropped in such a manner was named Geronimo, and he and the rest of his beaver companions all but one survived their skydiving experience, and, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, went on to live their beaver-y lives.

I found this story to be so hilarious and absurd! Such a huge amount of effort to protect the property of a small group of humans that had moved into an area where the beavers were already living!

I am glad that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game decided to move the beavers instead of kill them, and I will say that the beavers probably ended up in a pretty good place, far from humans and in areas that were likely to make for good beaver homes. Since the beaver had been so decimated by over hunting, these beavers may have helped recolonize some of their former range.

The story gets crazier because in the 1950s, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to emulate Idaho and also air dropped beavers into remote areas of wilderness. In California, the reason for parachuting beavers into the wilderness had nothing to do with beaver-human conflicts, but instead was to help reintroduce beavers to their historic range

So, all in all, a good story. But still a hilarious and absurd one as well.

Thank you for visiting my blog! If you are interested in other ways to connect with me, here are a few options:

Begin following this blog!

View and subscribe to my YouTube channel – A Birding Naturalist

Follow me on Instagram – abirdingnaturalist

Read Full Post »

I went out to the Fremont Weir National Wildlife Refuge this morning and spent a lovely few hours before the heat of the day began to sink in.  Saw lots of great birds including, but not limited to, Western Kingbirds that are still paired up even though most have finished breeding, Blue Grosbeaks singing all over the place, a hatch-year Red-shouldered Hawk that flew right in front of me, and an adult Red-tailed Hawk being harassed by a Red-winged Blackbird.  Among all these bird sightings I did have one really notable mammal sighting.  I was poking around through the underbrush near the edge of a small water way that runs through the refuge and came across a number of small trees that displayed the clear tooth marks of having been chewed through by a Beaver.  A few steps farther, and I saw the Beaver itself standing on the far bank at the waters’ edge.  It was eating some greenery, and when it was finished it walked up the bank, picked another plant, brought it down to the water and swam in pulling the plant in with it.  It only swam for a few seconds before it turned around, came back to shore, and began munching on the, now wet, plant.  I have no idea why it did this rinsing behavior, but it was interesting to see!  After it finished its’ breakfast, the Beaver returned to the water and swam off down the channel.  It really was a very nice morning indeed.

Read Full Post »