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What Is the State Animal of New York?

By Nicole Long
Updated May 17, 2024
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Since 1975, New York has recognized the beaver as the state animal of New York. The importance of the state animal of New York to the region stems from the history the area played in attracting explorers to the New World. While almost extinct in the region at one point, the state was able to reintroduce the beaver and offer it protection from future commercial harvesting.

Beavers can grow to a substantial size, weighing in at about 40 pounds (approximately 18 kg) on average. Larger beavers can surpass that weight, and approach a weight of 50 pounds (approximately 22.5 kg). Beavers are typically three to four feet in length, and are considered a rodent.

The beaver has the capacity to reconfigure the surrounding habitat and influence the local ecological balance. Their constant desire for a water-filled environment can lead to both negative and positive consequences on the surrounding environment. These consequences have a ripple effect in both the animal and human worlds.

Consequences of the popular beaver activity of dam building include the formation of new bodies of water and changes to the flow of water resulting in localized flooding. The creation of dams does, however, create additional habitats for fish and various mammals, such as deer. This can provide new water sources and breeding areas for these members of the animal kingdom.

Beaver pelt trade spurred development of the area of the New World now known as New York. Explorers came to the area to take advantage of opportunities for trade and wealth. English and Dutch trading posts sprung up around the region which connected Native Americans with fur traders looking to purchase the pelts of the future state animal of New York. These traders would then sell the pelts in Europe where they were used to make hats and other garments.

Thanks to the harvesting of beavers, the state animal of New York almost became extinct in the area. It was estimated that beavers numbered more than 60 million at one point before harvesting and commercial interests drove the numbers down. Eventually, beavers found a home again in the Adirondacks and became protected from commercial harvests. This protection helped the numbers of beavers surge again in New York.

Beyond the beaver as the state animal of New York, the state also has other official state symbols. This includes a state bird, the bluebird and a state fish, the brook trout, a popular fish among fishermen. Other state symbols of New York include the ladybug as the state insect and the bay scallop as the state mollusk.

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Discussion Comments
By Spotiche5 — On Oct 16, 2014

@raynbow- Yes, harvesting of beavers for their coats goes back to the earliest days of America. Just like the article says, the beaver trade was a key reason that the animal almost became extinct in the state. However, though this put a stop to beavers being harvested for their pelts, hundreds of years of this trade drove the state's economy for a long time.

Though the beaver was only officially named at the state's animal in 1975, I think that most people considered it to be the unofficial state animal long before that. This is just the year that the New York government officially named and began to recognize the beaver as the state animal due to its importance in the state's history.

By Raynbow — On Oct 15, 2014

I wonder why it took so long for the state of New York to name the beaver as the state animal. Doesn't the beaver pelt trade of the past go back many years?

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