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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Women's History Month: Wild and Inspiring Females

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight wild women who have made a difference for conservation and elevated our understanding of the natural world. No, these are not women who party while they work; these wild women are actually wildlife. They may not be as inspring as, say, Rachel Carson (who is included below), but they have definitely had an impact. These females have made their mark on the history of wildlife conservation and continue to inspire action, research, education, science. Cheers to all the wild women who have made historic contributions. What wild woman has inspired you?

The Wildlife

Martha the Passenger Pigeon
Cincinnati Zoo, circa 1914

- The Last Passenger Pigeon
(~1885 – 1914) 

Martha was the last known living passenger pigeon. She was named "Martha" in honor of the first First Lady Martha Washington. Passenger pigeons have been extinct since her death, and her story continues to serve as a somber reminder of what can happen to a species. Her death increased awareness around wildlife conservation as a whole, and confronted the finality of extinction that inspired the passing of laws like the Endangered Species Act.

Wisdom incubating her egg (December 2014). Photo credit: Daniel W. Clark/USFWSDaniel W. Clark, USFWS

Wisdom - Oldest Wild Banded Bird
(1951?- Present)

Wisdom is a female Laysan Albatross and also holds the title for the oldest known wild bird. She was banded back in 1956 around the age of 5 years old. Impressively, Wisdom continues to lay eggs and recently hatched what may be her 36th chick. Her amazing story highlights the importance of long term monitoring and research studies. We can always learn something new and in the case of Wisdom, are witnessing her make history.

close up portrait of Harriet. Photo credit: Daniel W. Clark/USFWS
Photo by Cory Doctrow, Creative Commons 

Harriet - One of Darwin’s Tortoises
(1830 - 2006)

Harriet, the Giant Galápagos Land Tortoise was collected by Sir Charles Darwin before later being transported to Australia where she spent a majority of her life. At the time of her death in 2006, she was considered one of the earth's oldest living creatures. Harriet continues to be a point of fascination for many.  

Women at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
While the female wildlife trail-blazers above have certainly made history, here at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we're also proud of the women who broke barriers for many of our staff. They pushed through the status-quo of the time and challenged us as an agency to be the best we could be. Here are just a few history-making women that we'd like to mention. 

Rachel Carson: Author and Movement Leader
portrait of Rachel Carson
Photo by Shirley Briggs

Rachel Carson (1907-1964): Through her words and her book, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson shaped the modern environmental movement. She spent 16 years working for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Her work as an educator, scientist and writer revolutionized America’s interest in environmental issues.

Mollie Beattie: First Female Director 
Mollie Beattie standing on a streambank in Alaska as a bear looks on from the far shore
Mollie Beattie (1947-1996): She was the first woman to become Director (1993-1996) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Her passion for wildlife conservation remains an inspiration.  

Elizabeth "Betty" Losey: First Female Field Biologist
Elizabeth Losey smiles as she holds a wild duck
Elizabeth "Betty" Losey (1912-2005) She was hired in 1947 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the first female research biologist. Before her, it was not seen as suitable for a female to work and stay overnight in the field. 

Lucille F. Stickel: Inspiring Research Pioneer

portrait of Lucille F. Stickel
Lucille F. Stickel (1915 -2007) She was director of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and pioneered research techniques that lead to a much deeper understanding of the impacts of pesticides in animals and the food web.

should have included Rosalie Edge...Hawk Mountain sanctuary.
# Posted By john | 3/8/16 5:25 PM

Conservation hero Rosalie Edge did not work for the FWS but is a wonderful inspiration.
# Posted By Matt Trott, FWS | 3/9/16 11:37 AM
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