Beaver returns to New York City
February 23, 2007
Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) discovered a beaver in the Bronx River. The animal was photographed and filmed.
WCS says the appearance of the animal, which have swam downstream from Westchester County, is a symbol of New York city's improving urban environment.
"This is a symbolic moment for our great city," said Dr. Steven Sanderson, president and CEO of the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society. "New York City is the epitome of an urban environment. The fact that an animal which represents the wild frontier of North America can live and thrive in a river that runs through the Bronx Zoo is proof that we can coexist with nature anywhere on the planet. Anything is possible."
José, the beaver that has returned to New York City. José is named for Congressman José E. Serrano (D-Bronx), who has helped secure $14.5 million in federal grants for the Bronx River's restoration over the past five years. Photos by Julie Larsen Maher of WCS.
The beaver damage begins. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher of WCS.
Beaver tracks on the bank of the Bronx River. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher of WCS.
Beaver lodge along the Bronx River. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher of WCS.
"Having beavers back in the Bronx River is certainly one of our proudest achievements," said Linda Cox, Bronx River Administrator for the New York City Parks Department and executive director of the Bronx River Alliance, which was created in 2001 to help restore and protect the Bronx River corridor and greenway. "It's proof positive that our efforts to bring the river back to ecological health have been successful. We look forward to beaver watching in the spring!"
The beaver is North America's largest rodent, measuring up to three feet long and weighing between 25 and 55 pounds, although some individuals may reach 90 pounds. Beavers are recognized as one of nature's great engineers, for their ability to alter their environment by felling trees and damming rivers. The species also has another noteworthy distinction: it was an important reason why New York City was originally founded.
WCS notes that the beaver's highly sough after pelt was almost its undoing.
"In pre-colonial America, beavers in North America were thought to number more than 60 million. By 1800, they had completely vanished in the United States east of the Mississippi; by 1930, the beaver was near extinction and in need of protection. Today, the beaver has rebounded in much of its traditional range."
This article contains quotes and information from a WCS news release.