"The box opens, and a most unusual and novel trip ends for Mr. Beaver." Idaho Fish and Game

As a new city built up, Idaho game officials air-dropped bothersome beavers into a new wilderness habitat. Now there’s archival video of the effort.

The year was 1948, and Elmo Hester had a problem on his hands. Idaho’s Fish and Game department, where Hester worked, was in charge of relocating beavers from the Payette Lake region—where postwar families were building new homes—to more secluded areas, where the animals wouldn’t get in the way.

(Hester, Journal of Wildlife Management)

It was a sprawl problem, really. “[People] kind of moved into where these beavers had been doing their things for decades, centuries, and beavers became a problem," the department’s spokesman, Steve Liebenthal, told Boise State Public Radio earlier this year.

But back in 1948, Hester had an idea. He believed beavers would be better suited to the Chamberlain Basin, nearly two miles away. The wilderness area didn’t yet have roads, so Hester came up with another plan. He would live-trap the animals—then airdrop them into their new habitats. Borne in sturdy wooden boxes, the beavers would safely float to the ground via attached parachutes.

Hester designed the boxes. Each held two beavers and came complete with ventilation holes and spring-loaded hinges that opened the boxes when the contraptions hit the ground. In recently unearthed archival footage, Fish and Game shows how it all went down (skip to around minute seven to watch the airdrop):

As Boise State Public Radio reports, the project didn’t continue past the 1940s. Today, local homeowners are expected to just deal with local beavers instead having them flown off into the forest.

But U.S. officials have not totally abandoned this airdrop method. In 2010, a government-funded project dropped dead mice packed with drugs into Guam. This was not a sting operation; the area was dealing with an infestation of invasive tree snakes, and the deadly, drug-laden mice took them out.

The beaver story has a much happier ending. Liebenthal, the Fish and Game spokesman, says the Idaho beavers’ descendants are likely still living in the protected Chamberlain Basin area today.

H/t: Boise State Public Radio

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A man walks by an abandoned home in Youngstown, Ohio
    Life

    How Some Shrinking Cities Are Still Prospering

    A study finds that some shrinking cities are prosperous areas with smaller, more-educated populations. But they also have greater levels of income inequality.

  2. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks at Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

  3. Design

    How 'Maintainers,' Not 'Innovators,' Make the World Turn

    We need more stories about the labor that sustains society, a group of scholars say.

  4. Design

    How to Game the Zoning Codes to Build Supertall Skyscrapers

    Three supertall New York City skyscrapers reveal just how creative lawyers can be in gaming the city’s zoning codes.

  5. a screenshot of a video about Baltimore's Metro
    Transportation

    It’s Time to Celebrate Baltimore’s Much-Maligned Metro

    In 1987, the Maryland Transit Administration busted out a brass band to open a subway that never had a chance.

×