Idaho beaver airlift: Parachutes deployed for critter migration.

In 1948, Idaho Airlifted 76 Beavers to a New Habitat and Dropped Them Via Parachute

In 1948, Idaho Airlifted 76 Beavers to a New Habitat and Dropped Them Via Parachute

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Jan. 16 2015 4:12 PM

In 1948, Idaho Airlifted 76 Beavers to a New Habitat and Dropped Them Via Parachute

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The documentation.

Screen shot/Martinezbeavers.org

Boise State Public Radio has an outstanding story about a great moment in Idaho ecological history: A 1948 beaver airlift that transported 76 beavers to a new, more secluded habitat by dropping them out of planes in wooden boxes attached to parachutes.

The endeavor was directed by an Idaho Fish and Game employee named Elmo Heter who needed to move some beavers away from an area where homes were being built. The location that Heter felt would be best for the beavers was inaccessible by road.

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First he tried to move the beavers via equine transportation. But that didn’t work, he wrote in the later report “Transplanting Beavers by Airplane and Parachute” in the Journal of Wildlife Management:

Horses and mules become spooky and quarrelsome when loaded with a struggling, odorous pair of live beavers. These problems involve further handling and too frequently result in a loss of beavers.

Then he tried parachutes, and it worked.

The airlifted beavers’ descendents now live in what is “the largest protected roadless forest in the lower 48 states.” You can see the whole story—which includes some outstanding pictures and answers the question of how the beavers got out of the boxes once they hit the ground—at Boise State Public Radio’s website.