19 October 2016
Beavers aren't just cute and damn clever. Innovative projects are trying to create human-rodent collaborations to stave off drought
GOLD wasn’t what drew the first European settlers out West. The California gold rush was preceded by the California fur rush: having exhausted what nature could supply in Europe and in the eastern American colonies, trappers set out in search of new riches. The thick, lush coat of the North American beaver was particularly prized. It was traded for every commodity under the sun, shipped around the world and used to make clothes and hats.
How fortunes change. The fur rush drove the North American beaver, Castor canadensis, to near-extinction. Then, after a remarkable comeback last century, the once-prized rodent became a pest. Now, some say it could be on the cusp of a fresh rebranding: not as a prize or a pest, but as a prodigy.