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NASA technology will assist in relocating Idaho beavers to help local ecosystems

A brown beaver is seen entering water with some grass and logs in it.
Pablo Cozzaglio
AFP via Getty Images
A beaver enters the water in the forest near Puerto Williams, Chile on Feb. 05, 2020.

Idaho is famous for its parachuting beavers, and now NASA is seeing if the rodents might be able to help farmers create healthier ecosystems.

Back in 1948, Idaho Fish and Game placed Geronimo and 75 other beavers in boxes fitted with parachutes and pushed them out of a plane to relocate them because they were considered a nuisance. Now, NASA, biologists and farmers think these pesky creatures might be key to dealing with drought.

"Beavers are ecosystem engineers, and just by performing their natural tendencies to build dams and slow down water and pond water, it can really benefit other wildlife species," said Lyn Snoddy, a regional wildlife biologist in the Magic Valley Region of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

NASA will support Fish and Game and Boise State University and use satellite technology to pinpoint rivers where beavers might benefit the local environment. They will use remote-sensing data to help monitor water and vegetation in areas where beavers are reintroduced.

When spring snow melts in Idaho, water will flow quickly down the mountain. But, if there are beaver dams, natural pools are created places for fish to live and help the ecosystem.

"The more diverse a plant community is, the healthier it is," Snoddy said. "It can also provide habitat for more different types of wildlife species when you have more complexity in those communities."

In a news release, Idaho farmer Jay Wilde started to reintroduce beavers onto his property in 2014. He says a stream near Preston, Idaho, flows 40 days longer because of the 200 beaver dams there.

The project hopes to bring better tools to wildlife management teams and will run through 2025.

I'm Richard and I started in 2022 as a summer intern. I graduated from University of Idaho in 2023 and am working as a newsroom assistant. Currently, I am doing stories on a variety of subjects to get a better understanding of different beats. However, I would love to cover stories about diverse issues.

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