The importance of downtown San Jose's beaver population was proven this month by a marathon effort by wildlife experts to help one member of the local beaver family thought to be in trouble.
A team from the Urban Wildlife Research Project partnered with Wildlife Emergency Services after someone noticed one of the three beavers living in San Jose's "Beavertown" appeared to have something wrapped around her stomach.
Wildlife experts said the material, believed to a packaging strap, hindered the beaver’s mobility and would eventually cut into its skin. They said they knew the animal needed to be captured, and quickly.
The problem was first noticed on July 7. A team was soon assembled and traps were set, but it took until Tuesday July 16 to capture the animal.
In the end it took a late night rescue by a large team that had assembled on both sides of the downtown creek using a sophisticated netting enclosure and light rigging in the trees.
After the beaver was captured, a piece of plastic was snipped from her waist. It was apparently a packaging strap like those used to bundle newspapers, wildlife experts said.
The animal was checked out by vets and released back in the waterway within an hour.
The beaver dwelling has been in downtown San Jose since March. Scientists consider the beaver a keystone species of a healthy ecosystem, playing a crucial role in biodiversity of wetland habitat.
Beavers have been missing from the San Jose area for more than 150 years, until now. The downtown San Jose family is believed to have originated from the Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos, where they were reintroduced in the early 1990s.