If you were a pesky beaver in Idaho in the late 1940s and 50s, you risked being “relocated” in a most adventurous manner.
The fact that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game flew beavers in a plane and dropped them with parachutes in a boxes that would release them “on impact” as part of a pest and population management program is a known thing. But video created of such an event was, 65 years later, the stuff of “whispers,” as Boise State Public Radio put it.
Despite a mention of the $700 project to film the beaver relocation program in action in a local newspaper in 1950, “the film was missing. Until now,” the radio station stated.
According to Boise State Public Radio, “Fur for the Future,” as the film was called, was found by Sharon Clark, department historian. It was not only mislabeled, but it was in the wrong box.
“When you’ve got film with parachuting beavers, you’ve got a story,” the department’s news release about the video posted Monday stated.
The 14-minute-long video, which has been converted to digital, explained in its introduction that the relocation program, which included animals other than beaver, was meant to “repopulate regions that will support these valuable animals.”
In some cases, trapped beavers could be directly relocated to other areas. In more remote locations though, that’s where the airplane came into play.
Twenty beaver ready for the flight to mountain meadows,” a narrator in the video stated as the crates of beavers were filmed being loaded into a plane. “The plane makes a careful approach, ready for the drop.
“Now, into the air and down they swing, down to the ground near a stream or a lake. The box opens and a most unusual and novel trip ends for Mr. Beaver.”
Watch the film (Skip to 8:39 in the video to see footage of the beaver drop):
On a timeline of the history of the department, it said the state “pioneered [the] program of parachuting beavers into remote areas to be used as a management tool. Removed nuisance beavers from where they were causing problems and sent them to work in the back country building wetlands.”
The first beaver to take the dive as part of the program was Geronimo.
“Geronimo was the test animal for a method of transporting beavers to the back country by parachute drop,” the department stated in a news release. “Craftsmen devised special wooden boxes designed to safely release the beavers once the parachutes touched down. The program helped rid McCall of some pesky beavers, but more importantly, those relocated rodents created some amazing habitat in places that would be very difficult for workers to access.”
Steve Nadeau, a wildlife biologist with the department, told Boise State Public Radio that while they do still relocate beavers, they don’t use planes and haven’t for “50-plus years.”
“[B]ut it apparently worked pretty well back then to reestablish them in remote places,” he said, crediting the program.