Book Review: Eager, The Surprising Secret Lives of Beavers

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They MatterEager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I live in a coastal town with abundant freshwater wetlands that drain to Long Island Sound. Beavers live here, too, and given their penchant for taking down ornamental trees and flooding driveways, their presence is not without controversy. They have never caused me trouble, but two beaver lodges on the cranberry bog inside a local state forest raised my curiosity. When "Eager" leapt towards me from a bookstore shelf, I got the message: It was time to improve my beaver I.Q.

If you think these furry wetland engineers might provide dry reading material, think again. "Eager" places a kaleidoscope on the super-sized rodents and turns the lens. We get a view of their history and biology, their role in ecology, their impact on the landscape, and their unsettling co-existence with the modern world. Aside from its entertaining, fast-moving narrative, the book explains why we would benefit by rehabilitating our attitudes towards beavers and how some are doing that. Goldfarb shows how scientists and beaver fans ("Beaver Believers") have created ways to coexist. Above all, it shows why we should--even must--embrace the role they can play in the future.

If you like works on natural history, wildlife biology, or ecological restoration, or if you have a 'difficult' relationship with the critters, this book is likely to both entertain and inform you.

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