Due to the beaver’s former role as a ubiquitous keystone species, there are increasing efforts in the American West to assist beaver in recolonization. Many interested in reintroduction are using two methods to identify optimal habitat: habitat suitability indexes/models (HSI), and historic occupation. This study details some of the problems inherent in HSIs applied to beaver habitat. The paper then interrogates historical occupation as a relocation tool, and finds that while more logically consistent, this method of habitat identification is also problematic. Historic range does not integrate past or present causes of extirpation and absence. I argue that, specifically in the case of beaver relocation but potentially for other species as well, causes of mortality are as important as are environmental amenities in identifying appropriate habitat.