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Celebrating Patuxent: 75 Years of Wildlife Conservation Research

This Science Feature can be found at: http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/celebrating-patuxent-75-years-of-wildlife-conservation-research/

USGS CoreCast

USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: 75 Years of Wildlife Conservation Research

Transcipt and Details: http://gallery.usgs.gov/audio/public_lectures/2011/apr/Patuxent.html

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Logo

Over the past 75 years, the conservation research at Patuxent has helped rescue species from the brink of extinction, provided the key data to ban or regulate harmful pollutants, and modeled how climate change will affect populations and habitat. Celebrate with us on Oct. 15, 2011, in Laurel, Maryland.

By 1936, devastating losses of wildlife populations — the result of market hunting, habitat degradation, and drought — were threatening the Nation’s natural resource heritage.

In response, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched a new era of wildlife conservation by creating the Patuxent Research Refuge.

Over the next 75 years, this research and conservation center would

  • contribute to rescuing species from the brink of extinction,
  • develop critical tools to manage hunted waterfowl species,
  • provide the key data to ban or regulate pollutants that negatively impact people and wildlife, and
  • model the effects of climate change on populations and habitat.

Patuxent has developed the models of the Nation’s migratory waterfowl harvest, established the effects of DDT on birds, created the science to breed and restore Whooping Cranes and other endangered species, produced fundamental methods to estimate wildlife populations, and directed the advancement of management practices used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System and other land resource managers.

Center History

A costumed technician feeds a 3-day-old whooper chick. All of the whooping cranes alive in North America today derive from a flock of about 16 birds, of which maybe only 3 or 4 females were laying eggs. The cranes were essentially extinct in the wild, but through the hard work of federal, state, and nongovernmental groups, about 250 whooping cranes live in the wild now. Another 150 more whoopers live in captivity, with USGS having the largest breeding flock of about 60 birds. About half of these USGS-raised birds are returned to the wild each year. Photo credit: Kathleen O'Malley, USGS.

A costumed technician feeds a 3-day-old whooper chick. All of the whooping cranes alive in North America today derive from a flock of about 16 birds, of which maybe only 3 or 4 females were laying eggs. The cranes were essentially extinct in the wild, but through the hard work of Federal, State, and nongovernmental groups, about 250 whooping cranes live in the wild now. Another 150 more whoopers live in captivity, with USGS having the largest breeding flock of about 60 birds. About half of these USGS-raised birds are returned to the wild each year. Photo credit: Kathleen O'Malley, USGS.

In 1936, despite facing the Great Depression and 21 percent unemployment in America, President Roosevelt and conservation leaders Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling and Ira Gabrielson had the courage, foresight, and commitment to create the Nation’s first wildlife research center.

Originally created within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the research program at Patuxent is now a part of the Department of the Interior as the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. The Patuxent Research Refuge, also within the DOI, is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Patuxent conservation science campus is co-located on more than 12,750 acres of wildlife habitat in the Baltimore–Washington corridor.

The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the USFWS Patuxent Research Refuge continue to play critical roles in education, outreach, and the development of wildlife conservation science.

Through the decades, Patuxent’s scientists have been responsible for many important advances in natural resource conservation and have had global impact with research and partnerships in 76 countries on all seven continents.

Today

Seventy-five years later, wildlife conservation science is again at a crossroads.

Climate change, water availability, changes in land use, renewable energy development, and urbanization present new challenges to conservation programs. Solutions are complex. They must be interdisciplinary in nature and landscape oriented.

Today the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is helping the Nation to

USGS scientists at Patuxent in Laurel, Maryland, along with their USGS  Biological Survey Unit counterparts at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, remain committed to solving the wildlife and environmental challenges of tomorrow.

Anniversary Celebrations at Patuxent

Over the past 75 years, the conservation research at Patuxent has helped rescue species from the brink of extinction, provided the key data to ban or regulate harmful pollutants, and modeled how climate change will affect populations and habitat.

The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center wants to celebrate its 75th anniversary with you. Please browse our public events.

Join us for the Patuxent Wildlife Festival on October 15, 2011, at Patuxent’s National Wildlife Visitor Center in Laurel, Maryland. Enjoy live animals, children’s crafts, tram tours, live music, scientific demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes research tours. Visit our Whooping Crane and Sea Duck colonies where scientists raise and study these species.