Check Out This Vintage Beaver Airdrop
Idaho parachuted live animals into the mountains
In the 1950s, wildlife officials in the state of Idaho in the western United States used military-style methods to boost beaver populations. Flying low in a single-engine light planes, game wardens parachuted pairs of beavers 10 at a time into underpopulated areas, in much the same way that today’s U.S. Air Force airdrops weapons and supplies to front-line troops.
“Into the drop box, nearly ready for that flight back into the mountains!” the narrator intones in a 1950 film from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. The film depicts officials packing frightened beavers into collapsible crates while a rigger attaches a parachute to each crate.
The plane lugs its live cargo into the Idaho mountains and descends to an altitude of a few hundred feet. The crew chief shoves out the crates. “Now into the air and down they swing!” the narrator cries.
The crates split open on landing and dazed beavers waddle out. “A most unusual and novel trip ends for Mr. Beaver,” the narrator quips.
Sixty years later, the Pentagon periodically airdrops its own live animals. Most notably, the Air Force parachutes poison-laced rats onto the strategic island of Guam, in the hope of controlling invasive tree snakes that hitched rides to the island on Navy ships.