In 1948, Idaho employees dropped beavers from airplanes. On purpose. And it worked.

In the wrong setting, beavers can be quite problematic.

The Humane Society of the United States — an organization dedicated to animal protection — even has a webpage titled “What to Do About Beavers."

The problem these animals cause is actually a pretty simple one. Beavers build dams, which is a very good thing if they're in a relatively rural floodplain — but it's a really bad thing if the beavers are in more densely populated suburbs or cities.


Left unchecked, beavers in an area with a lot of humans can cause damage to trees and, in some cases, flooding.

Image via Thinkstock.

Even the Humane Society understands that it's OK to take action against the beaver population at times.

The organization discourages trapping or shooting the animals, which (beyond being inhumane) is ineffective — “it only creates a vacuum into which new beavers will move, often sooner rather than later."

Instead, the Humane Society offers a few suggestions, such as fencing off trees and painting the trees with an abrasive coating.

They do not, however, suggest parachuting urban beavers into rural areas.

But, surprisingly, they probably should.

(Do not try this at home.)

In 1948, Idaho had a beaver problem.

As people moved into old beaver habitats and started building houses, the tree-chomping creatures became an increasingly sinister menace. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game wanted to relocate the city beavers to the uninhabited (by humans) parts of the state.

A man named Elmo W. Heter first tried to collect the beavers and put them on mules, but this wasn't successful — as he'd later recount in a paper (pdf here) on his efforts, the mules “become spooky and quarrelsome when loaded with a struggling, odorous pair of live beavers."

Undeterred, Heter tried a new approach.

Image via Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

In an attempt to relocate the beavers, Elmo W. Heter took an older, male beaver who would soon be dubbed "Geronimo" and started dropping him from airplanes.

Heter explained the process in the above-linked paper.

First, using weights, they tested crates until they found a type that would stay closed until reaching the ground.

Then, Geronimo's job began. Heter dropped him “again and again" from a plane and onto the field below in order to further determine the appropriate drop height and to test the crates carrying the beavers.

Once Geronimo had safely landed enough times for Heter's liking, the beaver relocation went into full swing.

It was, by and large, a success:

"In the fall of 1948, 76 live beavers were dropped with only one casualty. On the first drops, lightweight lashings were used on the sling ropes, and one of these broke before there was sufficient tension from the shroud lines to hold the box closed. One beaver worked his head through the small opening thus made for him and managed to climb out onto the top of the box. Even so, had he stayed where he was, all would have gone well; but for some inexplicable reason, when the box was within 75 feet of the ground, he jumped or fell from the box.

Observations made late in 1949 showed all the airborne transplantings to be successful. Beavers had built dams, constructed houses, stored up food, and were well on their way to producing colonies."

Heter estimated that transporting four beavers in this fashion could be accomplished at the relatively low price of $30 a quartet (about $300 in today's dollars) and concluded that "the savings in man hours, and in the mortality of animals, is quite evident," in case anyone wanted to repeat the process.

Image via Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

And, according to Smithsonian magazine, the air-dropped beavers' descendants still populate the region today — so the idea has staying power too.

But don't expect any more beavers to be tossed out of airplanes any time soon — even though the Humane Society doesn't specifically frown on the idea, they do suggest that we “try to live peacefully with these animals."

And that likely precludes parachuting them into parts unknown.

Dan Lewis runs the popular daily newsletter Now I Know ("Learn Something New Every Day, By Email"). To subscribe to his daily email, click here.

Most Shared
Instagram / Frères Branchiaux Candle Co.

Three young Maryland brothers who started a candle company to buy new toys now donate $500 a month from their successful business to help the homeless.

Collin, 13, Ryan, 11, and Austin, 8, Gill founded "Frères Branchiaux," which is French for Gill Brothers, after their mom told them they could either get a job or start a business if they wanted more video games and Nerf guns.

"They surprised me when they started a business and they started selling at their baseball and football games and they've moved on to a vending truck," Celena Gill told Good Morning America.

The three of them have been making the candles in their Indian Head home for the last two years and business is booming, with 36 stores carrying the boys' products and a deal with Macy's in the works. They sell nearly 400 candles a month, priced from $18 to $36, along with other products like diffuser oils, room sprays, soap, bath bombs and salts, according to the Washington Post.


Keep Reading Show less
Business

Some people apparently don't understand just how unbelievably good Serena Williams is on the tennis court.

Why they don't understand this is unclear. She holds more open era Grand Slam titles than any other tennis player, male or female. She's set Olympic records, ranking records, age records, prize money earnings records—the woman is a record-breaking machine. (Fun fact: Williams is the highest paid female athlete of all time, having earned $86 million in prize money during her career. The next highest is Maria Sharipova, with $38 million in prize money. If that's not total dominance, I don't know what is.)

Her list of tennis championships is a mile long. You don't even have to follow tennis to know that Serena Williams is a freaking powerhouse of a tennis player, not to mention one of the greatest athletes of all time.

And yet, there are dudes who believe they could take her on.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via ManWhoHasItAll

Recently, Upworthy shared a tweet thread by author A.R. Moxon who created a brilliant metaphor to help men understand the constant anxiety that potential sexual abuse causes women.

He did so by equating sexual assault to something that men have a deep-seeded fear of: being kicked in the testicles.

HBO didn't submit 'Brienne' from Game of Thrones for an Emmy. So, she did it herself.

An anonymous man in England who goes by the Twitter handle @manwhohasitall has found a brillintly simple way of illustrating how we condescend to women by speaking to men the same way.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The 2013 documentary "Blackfish" shined a light on the cruelty that orcas face in captivity and created a sea change in the public's perception of SeaWorld and other marine life parks.

This "Blackfish" backlash nearly deep-sixed SeaWorld and led Canada to pass a law that bans oceanariums from breeding whales and dolphins or holding them in captivity. Animals currently being held in Canada's marine parks are allowed to remain as well as those taken in for rehabilitation.

Podcaster and MMA announcer Joe Rogan saluted Canada's decision on a recent episode.

"First of all, what assholes are we that we have those goddman things in captivity? A big fucking shout out to Canada because Canada, mostly probably through the noise that my friend Phil Demers has created in trying to get MarineLand shut down, Canada has banned all dolphin and all whale captivity. It's amazing. I hope the United States does it well, I hope it goes worldwide," Rogan told his guest, economist and mathematician Eric Weinstein.

Keep Reading Show less
Planet