Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling
Ding Darling wore many "hats" during his lifetime: cartoonist, conservationist, and "the man who saved ducks" among them. Although he claimed conservation as a hobby, his achievements in conservation at all levels—local, state, and national - were numerous and lasting. As Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, predecessor of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Darling drastically cut waterfowl bag limits and seasons to help dwindling waterfowl populations. During his administration, three million acres of public land were set aside as wildlife refuges.
Darling was an articulate, forceful speaker, a vigorous crusader, and an expressive writer. Frustrated after years of battling red tape and political intrigue, he resigned from his federal post and convinced President Roosevelt to call the first North American Wildlife Conference in 1936. The landmark session would address the need for an organization to unite and speak for the diverse individuals and groups seeking to protect wildlife and wild places. From that conference and Darling's vision grew the General Wildlife Federation—forerunner of the National Wildlife Federation—with Darling as its first president.
Darling had a leading role in ensuring passage of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, which provides money to states for the purchase of game habitat and to help fund wildlife research through a tax on sporting firearms and ammunition.
Darling's accomplishments as a political cartoonist won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1924 and 1943. He designed the first duck stamp, which then sold for one dollar toward the purchase of refuges. Ding Darling's artistic skill can still be seen today in the "flying goose" symbol he created for use at all federal refuges. And his influence on wildlife conservation was immortalized in the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Reserve on Sanibel Island, Florida, which was dedicated in 1978. His vision and commitment lives on today in the work of the unifying champion of wildlife and wild places of which Darling was the primary architect—the National Wildlife Federation.
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