Drastic measures sometimes need to be taken to protect and encourage wildlife populations. In 1948, environmentalists parachuted beavers into their natural habitat in Idaho, hoping to encourage their numbers to increase. Because typical relocation methods were difficult for beavers, scientists dreamed up this new scheme to make the trip faster.
This video begins showing footage of the beavers being loaded into a small plane. It takes off, flying low over the wilderness. “Now, into the air and down they swing,” says the announcer. “Down to the ground near a stream or a lake. The box opens and a most unusual and novel trip ends for Mr. Beaver.”
Beavers as Paratroopers
Did this really happen? Amazingly, yes it did. The documentary producer goes on to explore the reasons behind the beaver invasion and why those steps were taken.
Hunters targeted beaver for their fur for many years, leading to a significant decline in the beaver population. While their numbers once ranged in the millions, only around 100,000 beaver remained at the beginning of the 20th century. The development of these parts of Idaho also had an impact on the beaver population. As the number of beavers decreased, the environment changed. Flooding started to become a real problem.
Following the prevailing guidance at the time, officials decided to relocate beavers from populated areas to more remote parts of Idaho. Faced with the challenge of logistics, they decided to parachute the little guys rather than subject them to the harsh and stressful road trip that would make it hard for the animals to cool themselves.
Fortunately, the Idaho Fish and Game Department had access to leftover WWII parachutes. A brave beaver named Geronimo took multiple flights to determine if the plan would work. 75 of the 76 beavers successfully parachuted into their new home. Following their trip, the beavers established colonies and lived out their lives in the Idaho wilderness.
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