Jay Norwood Darling

JN Ding Darling

A political cartoonist with an eye toward conservation, Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling was instrumental in the effort to block the sale of environmentally valuable land to developers on Sanibel Island.That parcel of land today has turned into the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.


J.N. "Ding" Darling

Born in Norwood, Michigan in 1876, Jay Norwood Darling was to become one of the most well known men of his era. A nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist, he was famous for his witty commentary on the many different subjects that concerned the nation.
An affable, dynamic, and talented man, Darling began his cartooning career in 1900 with the Sioux City Journal. After joining the Des Moines Register as a cartoonist in 1906, he began signing his cartoons with the nickname "Ding" - derived by combining the first initial of his name with the last three letters.
In 1924, "Ding" was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for a cartoon that espoused hard work. He would again win this prestigious award in 1942. An avid hunter and fisherman, Darling became alarmed at the loss of wildlife habitat and the possible extinction of many species. As an early pioneer for wildlife conservation, he worked this theme into his cartoons and influenced a nation.

In July 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed "Ding" Darling as the director of the U.S. Biological Survey, the forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In his 18 months as Director, Darling initiated the Federal Duck Stamp Program, designed the first duck stamp, and vastly increased the acreage of the National Wildlife Refuge System. He also developed partnerships with state universities to train scientists in the emerging study of wildlife biology.

With the passing of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act in 1934, all waterfowl hunters 16 years and older became required by law to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. Proceeds from the sales of these stamps are used to purchase wetlands for the protection of wildlife habitat. Since 1934, over $750 million in funds have been raised and more than 5.3 million acres of habitat have been purchased for wildlife.

Darling also designed the Blue Goose logo, the national symbol of the refuge system. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, scientist and chief editor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1932-52, wrote of the emblem, "Wherever you meet this sign, respect it. It means that the land behind the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along with our modern civilization."