Beaver's return to Detroit River hailed as sign of environmental recovery
For the first time in perhaps a century, a beaver has been discovered living in Michigan's Detroit River.
Workers at Detroit Edison's Conners Creek power plant on Detroit's east riverfront caught images of the animal in November, using motion-sensitive cameras, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services authorities say it's been between 75 and 100 years since a beaver was last seen in the river.
"It's part of that larger story of ecological recovery," John Hartig, the Detroit River refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told the paper.
Over the last number of years, other species have returned to the Detroit River area, said Hartig, citing sturgeon, whitefish, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and walleye.
"If it's cleaner for them, it's cleaner for us, too," Hartig said.
Detroit Edison employees reportedly kept the discovery to themselves for more than two months out of fear someone might harm the animal. But they eventually decided to go public because the beaver lodge is fenced in on plant grounds and inaccessible, except to plant workers.
Beaver pelts were highly prized for centuries by European hat makers and the animal was nearly trapped to extinction in many parts of North America. They have since seen their populations rebound in many areas, including the northern part of the state.
But Hartig told the paper the nearest beavers to the greater Detroit area live on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River animal may have swum over from there.