A beaver has been spotted in the Detroit River for the first time in 75 years or more, signaling to ecologists that efforts to rehabilitate the river have been successful.
The semi-aquatic rodent has taken up residence in an intake canal at a Detroit Edison plant within city limits, The Free Press reports. A plant employee first noticed signs of the beaver last year. In November, a motion-sensitive camera captured the proof. The story was not made public until last week because of concerns about the beaver’s safety.
Experts say beavers aren’t the only wildlife to return to the stream. Peregrine falcons, sturgeon, walleye and bald eagles have also been sighted in and around the river.
Although it’s a largely unhappy trade-off, declining industry and population growth is having a positive effect on the environment in Detroit and elsewhere–combined with concerted clean-up efforts.
There may be an economic silver-lining, as well if cities like Detroit and Cleveland can shed their reputations for being dirty industrial cities. This is especially true in a state like Michigan, where outdoor tourism is one of the top-five industries.
A study conducted in Toledo recently, found that the dredging of the Ottawa River, a popular tributary to Lake Erie, could provide $5 million annual economic return. Thanks to an earlier clean-up effort, the river, once used as an industrial dumping ground, has supported a cottage boating industry in northern Toledo.