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Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

by Ben Goldfarb

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1386153,102 (4.16)4
WINNER of the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Washington Post "50 Notable Works of Nonfiction" Science News "Favorite Science Books of 2018" Booklist "Top Ten Science/Technology Book of 2018" "A marvelously humor-laced page-turner about the science of semi-aquatic rodents.... A masterpiece of a treatise on the natural world."--The Washington Post In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America's lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of "Beaver Believers"--including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens--recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. From the Nevada deserts to the Scottish highlands, Believers are now hard at work restoring these industrious rodents to their former haunts. Eager is a powerful story about one of the world's most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change. Ultimately, it's about how we can learn to coexist, harmoniously and even beneficially, with our fellow travelers on this planet.… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Buffalo. Wolves. Cougars. And now beavers. Enter the world of re-wilding. To do this requires scientific and public support. The later is most important, politically, and that is where books come in for education and advocacy. Eager is a defense of the beaver and you will finish it convinced we need more beavers, lots more. It's not a threatened species, but the natural services it provides are immense and not widely known. Primarily because it is the dams and wetlands that restore rivers, fish, flood control and water aquifers. The beaver is a keystone species. They are so effective, people are selling fake beaver dams. Nevertheless, old biases still exist and many consider beavers a pest to be trapped and controlled. Thus there are beaver advocacy groups and beaver wars at county and state levels. One of the most backwards states is California because water is so limited they don't see a place for beavers at the table, even though beavers have a net positive effect. Other countries like Scotland are seeing beavers reintroduced for the first time in 400 years, while a German man has been replanting beavers in countries all over the world. None of this goes easily, and most places remain hostile to the beaver. One behind my house was trapped and disappeared not long ago. This book has made me into a beaver believer. ( )
  Stbalbach | Jan 3, 2021 |
Beavers! This was interesting but not as much fun as the last beaver book I read, Beavers: Superpower Field Guide. I learned quite a bit, but reading this quickly on the heels of [b: Spying on Whales|36739330|Spying on Whales The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures|Nick Pyenson|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1516122268l/36739330._SY75_.jpg|58531415] was probably a mistake. Both of them deal a lot with the effects of critter loss on the environment and the effects climate change and human impact have on critters and it's kind of depressing tbh. ( )
  bookbrig | Aug 5, 2020 |
Pop-up discussion book. Learned a ton. Lots of history and lots of interesting details. Bring the little guys back in force -- we NEED them! thank goodness for scientists/authors like Goldfarb ( )
  splinfo | Feb 13, 2020 |
One of the best natural history books I've read in a while! Very entertaining. Goldfarb uses homely analogies to help us get into what's going on with beavers.
"Imagine briefly that you're a beaver--a dispersing two-year-old male, say. You've recently departed your lodge, supplanted by newborn siblings who have become the apples of your parents' beady black eyes. You're house hunting. You have to find deep water or build a dam soon--you can smell the funk of nearby black bears--but the best homes are taken..." (p.73)
"There was one spot, up by Cody, where it was like ringing the grizzly bear dinner bell...A beaver is just a fat, slow, smelly package of meat." (p.88)

Replete with accounts of tagging along with people who work with beavers, and learning with them: How do you tell what gender a beaver is, with no visible differences? You smell their anal secretions: "A hint of motor oil means a male... A whiff of old cheese indicated a female" (p.93)
References are packed into 20 pages of notes at the end, followed by an index. Both of which will help as you, inevitably, become converted and want to convince your local flooding stream control agency to start using beavers as the best control method around. ( )
  juniperSun | Jan 21, 2019 |
This is my star non-fiction book of 2018. My words of praise do not do justice to this fantastic book. It turns what might have been a dry scientific tome into an exciting account of the fall and rise of the beaver. Moreover it is very witty. I intend to recommend it to many friends ( )
  revchrishemyock | Dec 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
...a book that’s a most unexpected gift: a marvelously humor-laced page-turner about the science of semi-aquatic rodents....But here’s the take-home message: Goldfarb has built a masterpiece of a treatise on the natural world, how that world stands now and how it could be in the future ... He gives us abundant reasons to respect environment-restoring beavers and their behaviors, for their own good and for ours.
 
Filled with hard facts and fascinating people (and animals), this is an authoritative, vigorous call for understanding and action.
added by juniperSun | editKirkus Reviews (May 15, 2018)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ben Goldfarbprimary authorall editionscalculated
Damron, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flores, DanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Water is important to people who do not have it, and the same is true of control.---Joan Didion, "The White Album", 1979
Dedication
To LS and DG, who provided the best example of mated pair behavior a kit could ask for.
First words
To be human is to be a survivor
Foreword: If you're like me, at some point as you read it, the book in your hands is going to send you outside to gaze across the landscape toward the nearest river valley.
Introduction: The first time I tried to meet Drew Reed, the most prolific beaver mover in the state of Wyoming, I was thwarted by a sick goat.
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WINNER of the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Washington Post "50 Notable Works of Nonfiction" Science News "Favorite Science Books of 2018" Booklist "Top Ten Science/Technology Book of 2018" "A marvelously humor-laced page-turner about the science of semi-aquatic rodents.... A masterpiece of a treatise on the natural world."--The Washington Post In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America's lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of "Beaver Believers"--including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens--recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. From the Nevada deserts to the Scottish highlands, Believers are now hard at work restoring these industrious rodents to their former haunts. Eager is a powerful story about one of the world's most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change. Ultimately, it's about how we can learn to coexist, harmoniously and even beneficially, with our fellow travelers on this planet.

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