New York City’s Known Beaver Population Just Doubled


  • Photo confirms second beaver living in the Bronx River near the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo
  • State mammal of New York State is making a comeback in New York City – locally extinct since colonial times
  • WCS and The Bronx River Alliance have been working to restore the river since 2001 with funds secured by U.S. Rep José E. Serrano
  • Visit www.BronxZoo.com to help give the new beaver a name

Bronx, NY – Sept. 17, 2010 – New York City’s known beaver population doubled since Bronx River resident – José the Beaver – was discovered in early 2007 living near the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo.  A second beaver was recently spotted and photographed with José near the shore of the only freshwater river in New York City.    

Wild beavers have been absent within the city limits since colonial times when the species was hunted to local extinction for its luxurious pelt. The beaver is the state mammal of New York and the animal whose image adorns the official seal of New York City.

“The return of beavers to the Bronx River is a true testament to nature’s ability to rebound even in the most urban setting,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “The Bronx River is a wonderful resource for the community. The fact that the river is once again supporting a thriving population of beavers as well as other wildlife is more than encouraging – it is proof that nature can succeed if given the opportunity.”

When José was discovered in 2007, WCS’s Bronx Zoo employees named him in honor of U.S. Rep. José E. Serrano (D-Bronx) who continues to be a tireless advocate for the Bronx River. This time, zoo staffers are asking for help naming José’s counterpart. Because it has not been determined if the newly discovered beaver is a male or female, the zoo has narrowed the choices to five names:

Castor       - the Latin name for the North American beaver is Castor Canadensis

Justin        - as in Justin Beaver

Bobbie       - in memoriam of a Bronx Zoo staff member’s beloved cat

Chompers - beavers have powerful jaws and can fell large trees with their teeth

Wally         - as in Wally and the Beaver from the 1950s era sit-com “Leave It to Beaver”

Everyone is invited to vote for their favorite at www.bronxzoo.com.  The online poll will be open from Friday, Sept. 17 to Friday, Sept. 24. The winning name will be announced on Tuesday, Sept 28.

“Doubling the beaver population of the Bronx River with the arrival of a new friend for José the Beaver is great news,” said Serrano who has helped secure more than $30 million in federal grants for the Bronx River's restoration during the past decade.  “The ongoing return of wildlife to the Bronx River is a sign that our environmental restoration project is an unqualified success. Our community is grateful to have a renewed river and a new beaver resident.” 

In addition to its global conservation programs, WCS is working locally to conserve wildlife and wild places in New York City.  WCS is working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to manage a federal grant secured by Serrano intended to ecologically restore South Bronx waterfront.  The partnership has seen considerable success from the 2006 reintroduction of alewife, a type of river herring, to the recently discovered population of beavers.  In August, WCS announced it will study alewives as part of the newly launched New York Seascape initiative – a marine conservation program aimed at protecting the waters and marine life surrounding New York City.

Linda Cox, Bronx River Administrator for the New York City Parks Department and executive director of the Bronx River Alliance, said: “We are thrilled that José the Beaver has found a friend – and quite possibly a mate – on the Bronx River.  The Bronx River Alliance Conservation Crew and all of our community partners, supported with significant funding from congressman Jose E. Serrano’s WCS-NOAA Lower Bronx River Partnership, have transformed what was once a trash-strewn, weed-choked river into viable habitat for new wildlife — and a great place for people as well!”

Beavers are North America’s largest rodents, with a combined head and body length between two and three feet, and weighing between 25 and 55 pounds, with a few specimens weighing up to 90 pounds. The distinctively flat tail is between 9 inches and 1-and-a-half feet in length, and is used for steering the animal while swimming, fat storage during winter, and creating a loud slapping sound on the surface of the water for either scaring off intruders or warning other beavers of potential danger.

Aside from its size, the beaver is better known as one of nature’s great engineers, able to alter its environment by felling large trees with its powerful gnawing teeth and through the construction of dams and lodges. Although sometimes problematic in terms of flooding and property damage, dams also create additional habitat for other species in the form of ponds, which serve to purify running water through the removal of silt.


Contact:

Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; sfairchild@wcs.org



The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.  Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

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