Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Official State Mammal

Location:   Throughout New York State
Year:   1975

New York State's official mammal, the beaver  (Castor canadensis), is unmistakable due to its large body size (up to 65 pounds and up to three feet in body length) and broad flattened tail (up to 10 inches long and 6 inches wide).

The beaver was central to the Native American and early colonial economies of the future State. Beaver pelts were so valuable that they were used as a form of currency, and the Iroquois instituted an imperialistic war in the 17th Century in order to control the beaver trade. 

The Algonquin word for beaver means "friendly,"  and along with corn, beans and squash, the beaver was one of the four bases of plenty among the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Beavers are also crucial to the ecosystem since their natural habit of damming small streams and creeks creates marshlands that result in far greater biodiversity.

Due to its historical importance, the beaver was named the Official State Mammal in 1975. 

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