Cover Photo: A beaver eating a reed in a body of water
Photograph by Maya Shikhman

Beavers Were Among New York’s First Builders—Then We Built a City They Can No Longer Live In

Imagining the city rebuilt so that beavers can return is an exercise in humility.

This is Sidewalk Naturalist, a column by Lenora Todaro which sees New York City through its wildlife citizens, whose lives tell us something about the way we live in the fragile ecosystem that is the city today.

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The Bronx River in History and Folklore

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter.

Staten Island Advance

“You have people who love them and people who don’t,” says Richard Simon, Director of the Parks Department’s Wildlife Unit. “Once there is property damage, New Yorkers are less tolerant. We’re excited that beavers are here, and everyone is working hard to keep them in place while mitigating any damage. No one wants to see them disappear again.”

Lenora Todaro is an editor at Off Assignment. She writes about books, travel, wildlife, soccer, and politics. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Book Review, the Atlantic, Salon, Bookforum, the Village Voice, and elsewhere.  A native New Yorker, she has always been drawn to wildlife from roaches to rhinos. She is a docent at the Prospect Park Zoo.  You can find her on Twitter and Instagram