Central Oregon Daily▶️ Baby beaver found weak, dehydrated makes recovery at High Desert Museum

▶️ Baby beaver found weak, dehydrated makes recovery at High Desert Museum

▶️ Baby beaver found weak, dehydrated makes recovery at High Desert Museum

Baby Beaver High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum on Friday announced the arrival of a baby beaver, which was found alone and in a weakened state in Eastern Oregon.

The museum said the baby beaver, called a kit, arrived in May after being found in a John Day parking lot. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife put the kit in the museum’s care.

The beaver was a few weeks old and weighed 1.4 pounds. It was weak and dehydrated, the museum said. But veterinarians were able to bring it back to health.

“The Museum’s wildlife team was tireless in researching appropriate diet options and providing around-the-clock care,” Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw said in a statement. “Their dedication to providing the best care is exceptional.”

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Here is more from the museum about the beaver and why it doesn’t yet have a name:

Six months later, the beaver is healthy and growing, now at almost 17 pounds. Staff have built a behind-the-scenes space to meet a beaver’s needs, complete with a pool for swimming. The kit eats a species-appropriate diet of native riparian browse such as willow, aspen and cottonwood, supplemented with vegetables and formulated zoological diets to ensure proper nutrition. 

The plan is that when ready, the beaver will become an ambassador for her species by appearing in talks at the Museum that educate visitors about the High Desert landscape.

The beaver is doing well and learning behaviors that assist with her care,” says Curator of Wildlife Jon Nelson. “She is learning target training, how to sit on a scale to be weighed and to present her feet for voluntary inspections and nail trims. She also enjoys time playing in the Museum’s stream after hours.”

The opportunity to name the beaver was auctioned at the 2023 High Desert Rendezvous. The winning bidder has yet to select a name, which must be appropriate for the Museum and connected to the High Desert. 

An estimated 60 million to 400 million beavers once lived in North America, creating wetlands and ponds. The dams built by these “ecosystem engineers” slow streamflow, raise the water table and reduce downstream flooding and erosion. Beavers also help birds, fish and other wildlife and native plants to thrive by creating habitat.

Beaver populations dropped dramatically in the last two centuries with demand for beaver pelts for clothing, most notably hats, in the mid-19th century. Their dam-building activities also at times prompt people to consider them a pest on their properties.

Today in the West, restoration of the beaver is underway and humans in some areas are mimicking its dam-building behavior in order to restore healthy High Desert riparian areas.

“The history of beavers in the High Desert is a profound one,” Whitelaw says. “We hope to be able to share the new beaver at the Museum with visitors soon to help tell the meaningful stories about the role these animals have to play in healthy ecosystems.”

The Museum cares for more than 120 animals, from otters to raptors. Many of the animals are nonreleasable, either due to injuries or because they became too familiar with humans. At the Museum, they serve as ambassadors that educate visitors about the conservation of High Desert species and landscapes.

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