The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

Paperback, 304 pages

Published March 8, 2019 by Chelsea Green Publishing.


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5 stars (1 review)

4 editions

An underrated environmental hero gets some overdue respect

5 stars

This is, flat out, the best book I have read in the last ten years. Skip the rest of this review and go read the book.

Beavers are a keystone species. We need them. Our lives are worse off for having obliterated them from large swathes of North America.

Beavers once inhabited almost all of what is now Canada, Alaska, and the continental United States (except for most of Florida and the southwest deserts). It's hard to pin down an exact number, but the North American population of beavers before the invasion of European settlers was somewhere between 60 million and 400 million. The fur trade had almost made them extinct by the early 20th century. Fortunately, their numbers have recovered to some degree, and they are no longer in danger of extinction.

One problem is that their range has been tremendously reduced. They just don't exist in may parts …