Beavers lived across most of North America for millennia before the unregulated colonial fur trade industry nearly drove them to extinction two centuries ago. Fortunately though, beaver populations are gradually recovering and they are returning to their native habitats across the continent. This is good news because the dams and ponds that beavers build create entire ecosystems that increase biodiversity, store water, improve water quality, combat climate change, and restore rivers and streams. Many of our threatened and endangered species including Atlantic and Pacific salmon require beaver ponds for their recovery and survival. For these reasons biologists classify beavers as a Keystone species, critical to the health of a myriad of species. Beavers are natural wetland restoration agents. So the return of beavers across North America is resulting in healthier watersheds, more water when it is needed, and improved habitats for many animal, plant and other species.
Unfortunately though, beavers are widely misunderstood and often killed when their natural dam making abilities interferes with human land-use interests. To support coexistence with beavers and the many other species that rely on them for survival, the Beaver Institute aims to educate and train both the layperson and professionals about the benefits and best management of beavers on our landscape.