April 7 was chosen as International Beaver Day because it is the birthday of the late Dorothy Richards of Little Falls, who studied beavers for 50 years.
“Beaver Woman” started Beaversprite, a nonprofit organization to help beaver populations recover.
Beavers, scientific name Castor canadensis, are the second largest rodent in the world. Beavers are important animal ecologically and historically.
First, because they build dams and prevent flooding. And second, because beavers protect us from greenhouse gas emissions.
Beavers are known for their tree-munching activities, but did you know that they use every bit of the tree that they fell? They eat the buds, bark and leaves, before gnawing the branches and trunk into smaller pieces to build with. The dams are useful in preventing floods and droughts, restoring the northern wetlands and helping to cleanse the water. The largest beaver-built dam is in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta, Canada and is 850m long!
In the past, beaver fur was very popular for clothing and especially top hats, and trapping killed so many beaver that the species became endangered. With the beaver populations so depleted, there were of course far few beaver dams, and the majority of wetlands drained.