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Of Aldo Leopold, the Grizzly and the “Fierce Green Fire”

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This series of essays explores the legacy of Aldo Leopold, conservation icon, scientist, philosopher — and the father of modern wildlife management and the American Wilderness System. Writing at the tail-end of a blood bath when almost all the grizzlies, wolves, and other wildlife had been killed in the West, he pled for saving bears and “all the pieces” of ecological systems, arguing for a different, more compassionate relationship with nature.  In his essay The Land Ethic, Leopold revolutionized our views about our responsibility for nature.

With an extraordinary ability to change his mind in the face of new evidence, Leopold transformed his views about the role of predators, from seeing them as vermin to ecosystem regulators, and even, in the case of the grizzly, “the outstanding achievement of… the pageant of evolution.” 

Leopold’s children inherited his gifts as naturalists, scientists, and advocates for wild nature, including his daughter Estella Leopold. (Listen to Louisa’s interview with her: Episodes 35-38).

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