Olaus Murie (r) and Aldo Leopold (l) at Wildlife Society Meeting
The Muries—much like the Leopolds—are part of the conservation community’s royalty. They shined individually and were an awesome force collectively—and they still are. They have also been on my mind a lot of late.
Poisoning and trapping of so-called predators and killing rodents, and the related insecticide and herbicide programs, are evidences of human immaturity. The use of the term 'vermin' as applied to so many wild creatures is a thoughtless criticism of nature's arrangement of producing varied life on this planet. – Olaus Murie
They came to mind first as I wrestled with the irony of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation being so anti-wolf and yet honoring Olaus Murie who while clearly the father of modern elk management was also one of the pioneers when it came to predator appreciation and understanding. For me—a proud owner of a well-thumbed copy of Olaus Murie’s A Field Guide to Animal Tracks—the cognitive dissonance caused by this happenstance was profound and irreconcilable.
Adolph and Louise Murie
And now they are on my mind because they too are bothered by the above. And just as the first generation of Muries—Olaus
, and Louise
—did in such precious places as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Grand Teton National Park, and Denali National Park, the remaining second and third generations are standing up for the wolf and sound science.
So what did they do? Donald Murie—Olaus and Mardy Murie’s son—recently wrote a strong letter (click here to see)
to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation asking them to both stick to the science and change the direction of their comments regarding wolves or stop using the Murie name in association with the award and their programing. This is a pretty straight-forward request driven by a growing frustration with the indefensible, anti-wolf rhetoric coming out of RMEF.
The letter was sent to all the board members of the RMEF as well as the leaders of the major conservation organizations—many of which honored members of the Murie family with awards including:
The Wildlife Society’s Aldo Leopold Memorial Award Medal (Olaus)
Pugsley Medal (Olaus)
Audubon Medal (Olaus)
Sierra Club John Muir Award (Olaus)
Audubon Medal (Mardy)
Sierra Club John Muir Award (Mardy)
The National Wildlife Federation J.N. Ding Darling Conservationist of the Year Award (Mardy)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (Mardy)
John Burroughs Medal (Adolph)
On some level I suspect that this will be viewed as a harsh condemnation of RMEF as a conservation organization. For my part, I hope it is viewed both as a community-wide intervention and an invitation. I hope the elk foundation understands the seriousness of this action and owns up to their
missteps. But to move forward and accept the “invitation” element of the action they have to make serious changes in leadership and philosophies. If they can do it, there are plenty of us who would welcome an opportunity to work with them again in the spirit of cooperation and sound conservation science. It is really their choice.