Key Women in Refuge System History


Quick! Name three U.S. women known for wildlife conservation.

Rachel Carson may come to mind first, but do you also know Mardy Murie and Mollie Beattie?

 All are recognized conservation heroes who worked to enhance the National Wildlife Refuge System. So did Lucille Stickel and Elizabeth Losey

Mardy Murie campaigned tirelessly with her husband Olaus to protect wilderness in Alaska. Their efforts led to the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1960 and passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.

Mollie Beattie, a forester and the first woman to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was instrumental in establishing 15 national wildlife refuges.

Lucille Stickel, director of the Patuxent Research Center, MD, in the 1970s, conducted research on the pesticide DDT. Her work helped inform Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring.”

Elizabeth Losey had a master’s degree in wildlife management in 1947 but couldn’t get a job with the Michigan State Game Division because no one wanted a woman in the field overnight.  Then Chief of Refuges J. Clark Salyer hired Losey as a waterfowl research biologist at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, MI. There, at age 92, she wrote her final peer-reviewed paper — on the history of sharp-tailed grouse.

Four refuges are named for women:


Mardy Murie

Mollie Beattie

Lucille Stickel