Cover image for Eager : the surprising, secret life of beavers and why they matter / Ben Goldfarb ; foreword by Dan Flores.
Eager : the surprising, secret life of beavers and why they matter / Ben Goldfarb ; foreword by Dan Flores.
Publication Information:
White River Junction, Vermont : Chelsea Green Publishing, [2018]
Physical Description:
xi, 286 pages, 8 pages of plates ; 24 cm
Appetite for construction -- Dislodged -- Deceive and exclude -- The beaver whisperer -- Realm of the dammed -- California streaming -- Make the desert bloom -- Wolftopia -- Across the pond -- Let the rodent do the work.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
333.95937 GOL Book Adult General Collection

On Order



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.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this diverting volume, environmental journalist Goldfarb sings the praises of beavers, who, though "targets of a multicentury massacre" and besieged by urban sprawl, still manage to "flourish... not only in Walmart parking lots, but in stormwater ponds and golf course water hazards." He sheds light on beaver habits and habitats in the United States, England, and Scotland, focusing on the roles they play within ecosystems and likening them to "ecological and hydrological Swiss Army knives, capable, in the right circumstances, of tackling just about any landscape-scale problem." Chapters deal, for instance, with how beavers approach infrastructure and build dams by laying foundations with "mud, stones and sticks set perpendicular to the stream's flow." Goldfarb also acknowledges the mischief beavers can create, recounting the tale of a beaver who gnawed through fiber-optic cable and knocked out cell phone service in Taos, N.Mex., and a beaver "barging into a Maryland department store and rifling through its plastic-wrapped Christmas trees." Goldfarb also calls attention to the work done by dedicated wildlife biologists, scientists, land managers, and other self-proclaimed "beaver believers" like Heidi Perryman, founder of the nonprofit Worth a Dam, a "comprehensive clearinghouse for beaver science and coexistence techniques." These folks lend personality to an affectionate portrait of these "hardy rodents." Illus. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Environmental journalist Goldfarb makes the case that beavers are a keystone species vital for ensuring healthy ecosystems. For example, beaver lodges have proven to be instrumental in trumpeter swan survival as they provide an elevated habitat that deters prey. Beavers can also create their own food source by damming waterways to promote both aquatic plant and fish growth. Yet, their notoriety as a nuisance species is hard to overcome, even given their important ecological role. Goldfarb introduces us to beaver advocates; environmental activists determined to reverse this negative perception; engineers who construct flow devices that enable beaver dams to coexist with human landscapes, ecologists who have uncovered the important niche the species have in ecosystems, and scientists who have unearthed evidence proving that beavers have a long history in the United States. Beginning with the early fur traders who depleted beaver populations and leading to those attempting to reverse the negative opinion about beaver's detrimental influence, this comprehensive book provides a well-rounded consideration of a frequently misunderstood species. VERDICT Even if you don't think you have an opinion on beavers, this engaging book will make you a beaver believer.-Diana Hartle, Univ. of Georgia Science Lib., Athens © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Appetite for Constructionp. 17
2 Dislodgedp. 37
3 Deceive and Excludep. 61
4 The Beaver Whispererp. 83
5 Realm of the Dammedp. 105
6 California Streamingp. 129
7 Make the Desert Bloomp. 151
8 Wolftopiap. 173
9 Across the Pondp. 195
10 Let the Rodent Do the Workp. 221
Acknowledgmentsp. 245
Notesp. 249
Indexp. 271