A true conservation pioneer, Ira Gabrielson spent two decades of his early career carrying out ecological research as a field biologist for the Bureau of Biological Survey, the forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His full-time work in the field ended and his administrative career began in 1935 when he went to Washington to become chief of the Bureau.
Gabrielson's keen political instincts served him well. Thanks in large part to his strong political ties, several milestone wildlife laws were passed during his tenure. Among the legislation he helped see through: The Duck Stamp Act, which established the sale of migratory bird hunting stamps, and the Pittman-Robertson Act, which levied an excise tax on the sale of sporting firearms and ammunition. Both measures provided essential funding for conservation efforts.
Gabrielson was the first director of the Fish and Wildlife Service when it was formed in 1940. In this capacity, he was responsible for adding millions of acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System.
After six years with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Gabrielson resigned to start a second career with the Washington, DC-based Wildlife Management Institute, dedicated to habitat restoration and wildlife research. He headed the institute for 24 years. In a career that spanned more than 65 years, Ira Gabrielson proved that the profound power of the individual can make a big difference for the cause of conservation.
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