For a glorious moment in the middle of the last century, it seemed as though Americans dropping things from airplanes could solve any problem. World War II ended, an embattled Berlin was saved from Communist blockade, and in Idaho, beavers were relocated by paratrooping out of planes.
“Fur for the Future” is an educational film made around 1950 by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. It was recently rediscovered, digitized, and released to YouTube by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Idaho Historical Society. North America’s once-gigantic beaver population suffered greatly from the fur trade that accompanied European colonization of the continent, but by the 1940s was experiencing a fresh boom. Rather than just kill the creatures, Idaho relocated many beavers to new streams where they thought the beavers might thrive. After trapping the beavers, they were sometimes carried by car or cage and released right into the woods.
Other beavers were put into “beaver drop boxes” and released from the sky. Sorted into pairs of even weight, the beavers were tagged and then put inside small wooden boxes.
These crates were loaded into airplanes, ten per airplane, and parachutes attached to the boxes. Then, when the airplane spied a lake or stream in need of a pair of beavers, they released the crate into the sky. The beavers landed and emerged from their wooden rides as confused and frustrated as one might imagine an alien abductee would be upon return to earth.
Somehow, parachuting wasn’t the weirdest thing beavers were up to last century. Published in the May 1930 issue of Popular Science, “Do Beavers Rule On Mars?” speculated that life on the Red Planet might resemble the furry, workaholic rodents.
Back on earth, Idaho relocated not just beavers but muskrats and martens too, who also feature in the full, amazing, video below.