"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. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  2. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  3. An African healthcare worker takes her time washing her hands due to a virus outbreak/.
    Coronavirus

    Why You Should Stop Joking That Black People Are Immune to Coronavirus

    There’s a fatal history behind the claim that African Americans are more resistant to diseases like Covid-19 or yellow fever.

  4. photo: a TGV train in Avignon, France
    Coronavirus

    To Fight a Fast-Moving Pandemic, Get a Faster Hospital

    To move Covid-19 patients from the hardest-hit areas, authorities in France turned one of the nation’s famous TGV trains into a very fast ambulance.

  5. photo: an empty street in NYC
    Environment

    What a Coronavirus Recovery Could Look Like

    Urban resilience expert Michael Berkowitz shares ideas about how U.S. cities can come back stronger from the social and economic disruption of coronavirus.

×