Beavers have always been a nutritious, if stubborn, meal for humans. During the late Eocene era, the world began to cool, leading the forests that had once covered the Earth to recede, leaving open grasslands for beavers and other rodents to occupy. Beavers thrived in this new world, splitting into two distinct groups. One lived mostly underground, while the other would make its habitat in the water. Their fortunes would take a turn with the arrival of humans.

Beavers have been hunted for centuries. As the second-largest rodent after the Capybara of South America, they were a plentiful source of food and furs. Their glands produced a substance known as Castoreum. Historically this was used to treat conditions like anxiety and menstrual cramps.

Beaver numbers dwindled as the human population grew, and by the 19th century, the European population had plummeted from 400 million to less than 2000. The Eurasian Beaver’s numbers have since risen to 639,000. It has been introduced to many of its old habitats.

Artist: Kätrin Beljaev

A scene of a father and child collectiong beavers from a trap

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Credit: Kätrin Beljaev and Open Past

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