Olaus and Mardy Murie

Wilderness Warriors

Olaus Murie (1889-1963) was a brilliant field biologist for the Biological Survey, the precursor to the Fish and Wildlife Service, from 1920 to 1945. He was an expert on Arctic mammals along with animal tracks and scat, having written the Petersen Guide on the subject. His book The Elk of North America became a classic in wildlife management. Olaus went on to head The Wilderness Society as both director and president. He took early trips to Alaska in the 1950s to scout lands for protection, and fought hard to expand the National Wildlife Refuge System. Olaus combined his scientific expertise with a passion for the environment. Both his paintings and his words articulated a naturalist’s profound understanding and appreciation of his surroundings.

Margaret “Mardy” Murie (1902-2003) was Olaus’ wife, naturalist partner, and a pioneering female conservationist. Mardy served as an “unpaid” Fish and Wildlife Service naturalist beginning with their honeymoon in 1924, an official dogsled trip to the Brooks Range, where she cataloged mice. Mardy continued her naturalizing, nature writing, and scientific editing of Olaus’ papers until his death in 1963. After Olaus’ passing, Mardy became a strong advocate for federal conservation, campaigning hard for The Wilderness Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Act. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her conservation efforts. Mardy wrote two of the most inspiring works of conservation in American literature, Wapiti Wilderness and Two in the Far North.