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National parks and nature preserves aren't just for people, but animals too. From a young age, Aldo Leopold was taught to respect both nature and the creatures that live in it. His contemporaries, however, were more concerned about the potential profit of that land. 

The father of ecology, Leopold knew many animal species may go extinct without serious regulations for hunting and conservation of their habitats. So he set out with foresters in several states to not only protect the land, but the animals that depended on it. 

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Text Types and Purposes—Animal Conversation in Your Neck of the Woods

Even before official game conservation laws were in place, Aldo's father Carl taught him the importance of responsible hunting practices. Hunters killed far more than they could use, even killing eagles and other sacred animals. In the hundred years prior to Aldo's birth, American Bison numbers plummeted from 60 million to barely above 500 due to hunting and killing bison for fun. 

Leopold and his team enforced the rules and regulations for where, when, and how many animals one could hunt. Do some research on the hunting regulations in your area. What do you think would happen if these rules were not abided by? Write a short essay on your findings and predictions. 

An issue of The Pine Cone newspaper lays out their guidelines for protecting and aiding wild game animals. 

Production and Distribution of Writing—Animals in Forests and Cities

During his time with the United States Forest Service, Leopold noticed several species of animals were becoming more and more scarce. Back then, the biggest threats to wildlife were reckless hunting and predators. Today, we are their biggest threats. 

Create a venn diagram of animals that live in forests, cities, or both. Choose one animal in each category. Write a paragraph about each animal and why it can live where it does, focusing on its diet, interaction with humans, and any adaptations that make its environment a perfect fit.

Raccoons are a perfect example of an animal well-adapted to both the wild and urbanized areas. 

Raccoons are a perfect example of an animal well-adapted to both the wild and urbanized areas. 

 

Comprehension and Collaboration—Ecology in Action

Ecology, which Leopold pioneered, is a branch of biology that focuses on each organism's place in their habitat or ecosystem

Choose a predatory animal and a plant. Research what would happen to as many other organisms—plants and animals—as you can if the predator disappeared. Then do the same for the plant. Present your findings to the class. 

The players in an ecosystem. The arrows point to the animal that is consuming the one before it. For example, the radishes are being consumed by the mouse. 

The players in an ecosystem. The arrows point to the animal that is consuming the one before it. For example, the radishes are being consumed by the mouse. 

Supplemental Videos

This short video explains the purpose and importance of nature preserves.

High school student Alex Mulligan's presentation on Aldo Leopold. This video won him 4th place in a Wisconsin history event.