Parachuting Beavers
After being trapped by pipe and cigarette smoking conservationists, beavers were prodded into wooden crates then strapped to a parachute for a quick decent to the ground. Source: boisestatepublicradio.org

You may have heard of flying squirrels or even leaping lemurs, but parachuting beavers? New video footage from Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game shows a bold relocation program conducted in the 1950s that parachuted beaver pairs into the backcountry.

The program started after World War II when more people moved into areas traditionally inhabited by beavers. In an effort to relocated these troublesome homesteaders and enhance backcountry reclamation, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game came up with the novel idea of parachuting pairs of beavers into remote areas.

Parachuting Beavers
Airborne beavers of Idaho parachute into the backcountry to start a new life. Source: boisestatepublicradio.org

The lack of roads into the backcountry area of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area led to the unorthodox relocation effort. Beaver couples (male and female) were trapped, put into wooden boxes with breathing holes, and tossed out of an aircraft at about 500 feet. When the furry airborne adventurers landed, a rubber latch opened the crate and released the animals into the wild. Then according to one Idaho newspaper of the time, “the web-footed rodents multiply and become outpost agents of flood control and soil conservation.”

The film footage is a classic mid-century government public relations flick. The deep reassuring voice of the narrator describes the actions of benevolent Fish and Game employees as they help the cute beavers find a pristine happy new home. The film looks like something you might have watched in a high school natural sciences class, if you are of a certain age.

Parachuting Beavers
Male and female pairs of beavers were relocated by parachuted into remote backcountry areas of Idaho. Once on the ground the beavers moved to nearby streams and started building dams. Source news.discovery.com

Idaho Fish and Game officials reported that no beavers were hurt in the airborne relocation. When the beavers landed they immediately scrambled to nearby streams and began making dams within a few days. According to Idaho officials beavers have not been relocated using this method in over 50 years.

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