Beaver returns to Bronx River after 200 years
River water quality improved, beavers begin to return
by Pinedale Online!
February 24, 2007
We were absolutely thrilled to read reports on Saturday that a beaver has been discovered building a lodge on the banks of the Bronx River in New York City. This is historic news since beaver, once plentiful there until the early 1800s, have been extinct from those waters for 200 years.
A young male beaver has begun to build a lodge on the river’s edge, not far from the Bronx Zoo. Biologists have named him “Jose” after U.S. Representative Jose Serrano whose efforts have helped clean up the Bronx River and make it once again inviting to wildlife.
The image of a beaver appears on the official seal and flag of New York City, a testament to its importance in years past.
John Jacob Astor based out of New York City with his fur trade business in the early 1800s. Many of the beaver furs that were trapped in our Upper Green River Valley in Wyoming during the Rocky Mountain fur trade era ultimately found their way to the harbors of New York to be shipped to England to be made into fancy beaver hats. The fur trade, and Manhattan real estate, helped build Astor’s fortune. Ultimately, beaver were trapped out of existence in New York City as the area grew.
This incredible reintroduction deserves to be celebrated as a victory in habitat improvement for New York City. State wildlife officials can designate this beaver as an “experimental population”, initiating special protection so Jose and his family can thrive as the seed beaver for a new population to expand their range up the Bronx River bringing this animal back to the waters of the East.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for New York residents to watch beaver at work in the wild, right in their own backyard! And it is truly fitting that this particular beaver picked a location near the Bronx Zoo where visitors can see nature at work in an natural setting so near captive animals.
This experimental beaver population won’t come with all the negative downers like our experimental population of wolves that have been reintroduced to Wyoming. Beaver won’t eat the neighborhood pets or attack humans. There will be no issues of compensation for livestock losses from these cute, furry animals. And beaver won’t harm other wildlife that live along the river.
Beavers do have one habit of cutting down nearby trees and shrubs to build their lodges and making dams, but we’re sure the city parks and maintenance departments won’t mind dealing with those things for this worthy cause to help this symbol of our heritage recover in their former habitat range.
If the beaver do get out of hand, Wyoming would probably be more than happy to send a few of our recovered wolves for natural predator control and help New York City reintroduce that species to its former range as well.
After 200 Years, a Beaver is back in New York City (NYTimes.com, by Anahad O’Connor, 2/23/07) Requires free log-in
Beaver Return to New York City after 200 Years (CNN.com, 2/23/07)