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Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter
RIWPS bookworms are invited to read Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb for a Zoom discussion. Settle in with your favorite cup of tea and a cookie or two, to see old and new friends and talk about a good book
Laura Orabone, who will lead the discussion, writes about Eager: In the American west, wetlands comprise about 2% of land area but support around 80% of total biodiversity. Much of these precious wetlands owe their existence to a large, semi-aquatic rodent. Long maligned by farmers and ranchers as a “destructive” force, the beaver is actually a keystone species across much of North America, providing crucial habitat for a host of life forms, including amphibians, waterfowl, wading birds, fish, moose, and an array of beneficial vegetation.
Hunted relentlessly for its dense, waterproof pelt, the beaver was rendered functionally extinct in the lower 48 by the mid-19th century. For the sake of satisfying a passing fashion craze, these ingenious hydrological engineers were all but eliminated, and with them, the richly diverse wetland habitats they created.
In his award-winning book, Goldfarb deftly shifts the baseline of what we view as healthy land management. He illustrates how industrial agriculture, widespread animal grazing, and the never-ending expansion of “development” has destroyed our precious wetland habitats, strangled biodiversity, and brought ancient ecosystems to the brink of collapse in the name of “progress.” In an age of increasing drought and habitat loss, renewed beaver populations can provide the wetland restoration and expansion essential to the rewilding and enrichment of our native ecosystems. After reading Goldfarb’s entertaining history of this fascinating animal, you’ll never regard a beaver dam in quite the same way.
“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
WINNER of the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
The book is available through local bookstores or online, and a number of copies are available through Rhode Island’s Ocean State Libraries.