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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

Beaver

The Corps frequently saw beavers or signs of their presence in damned streams, downed trees, and from time to time as clothing worn by the natives. Where beaver were plentiful, they represented a welcome source of meat. The Louisiana Territory represented a rich resource for the fur trade, particularly beavers, and within 30 years, their numbers had decreased significantly.

Capt. Lewis, April 17, 1805--there were three beaver taken this morning by the party. the men prefer the flesh of this anamal, to that of any other which we have, or are able to procure at this moment. I eat very heartily of the beaver myself, and think it excellent; particularly the tale, and liver

Capt. Lewis, April 22, 1805--we saw a number of bever feeding on the bark of trees along the verge of the river, several of which we shot, found them large and fat.

Capt. Lewis, April 28, 1805--the beaver have cut great quantities of timber; saw a tree nearly 3 feet in diameter that had been felled by them.

Capt. Lewis, May 2, 1805--sent out some hunters who killed 2 deer 3 Elk and several buffaloe; on our way this evening we also shot three beaver along the shore; these anamals in consequence of not being hunted are extremely gentle, where they are junted they never leave their lodges in the day, the flesh of the beaver is esteemed a delecacy among us; I think the tale a most delicious morsal, when boiled it resembles in flavor the fresh tongues and sounds of the codfish, and is usually sufficiently large to afford a plentifull meal for two men.

Capt. Lewis, May 24, 1805--game is becoming more scarce, particularly beaver, of which we have seen but few for several days the beaver appears to keep pace with the timber as it declines in quantity they also become more scarce.

Capt. Lewis, July 30, 1805--I passed the river and continued my walk on the Stard. side. saw a vast number of beaver in many large dams which they had maid in various bayoes of the river which are distributed to the distance of three or four miles on this side of the river over an extensive bottom of timbered and meadow lands intermixed. in order to avoid these bayoes and beaver dams which I fou[n]d difficult to pass I directed my course to the high plain to the right which I gained after some time with much difficulty and waiding many beaver dams to my waist in mud and water.

 
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