Olaus Murie

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Olaus Murie was a renowned biologist and one of the country’s great champions of wildlife and wilderness.

Scientist, visionary, and former governing council member and president of The Wilderness Society, Olaus Murie’s vision helped establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and shaped a new way of thinking about predators and ecosystems.

Early life

Olaus Murie’s passion for wilderness began during his childhood in the fertile Red River valley of Minnesota. Murie studied at Pacific University in Oregon.

Career

Olaus Murie began his career as a wildlife biologist in Alaska, where he studied caribou herds in northern Alaska’s Brooks Range and found his lifetime companion, Mardy.

The Muries moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to study the local elk herd and it became their lifelong home. Olaus became an early, staunch defender of predators and their crucial role in ecosystems.

Legacy

In 1937, Murie joined the governing council of the young Wilderness Society. He helped convince President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to add surrounding rain forests to Olympic National Monument.

He worked to establish Jackson Hole National Monument in the valley below the Teton Range.

In 1950, The Wilderness Society named Murie its president. The Muries’ log cabin in Moose, Wyoming became an unofficial Wilderness Society headquarters. As president, Murie lobbied successfully to prevent large federal dam projects within Glacier National Park and Dinosaur National Monument.

Murie’s greatest quest became protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. In 1956, Mardy, Olaus, and a few others spent several weeks on an Arctic expedition. Armed with their evidence, they returned to the lower 48 and spent four years campaigning tirelessly to protect the place so dear to them. In 1960, President Eisenhower set aside 8 million acres as the Arctic National Wildlife Range, which later became part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.