Olaus J. Murie
Inducted Saturday, October 4, 2008
Olaus Murie graduated from Moorhead High School in 1908. His interest in natural history can be traced to exploration during his childhood of the woods along the Red River and the nearby prairie.
After graduation, Murie studied biology at Fargo College. He transferred to Pacific University in Oregon where he studied zoology and wildlife biology. After graduation in 1912, Murie became an Oregon state conservation officer. Between 1914 to 1917, Murie participated in scientific explorations of Hudson Bay and Labrador. During World War I, he was a balloon observer for the Army Air Force.
From 1920 to 1926, the U.S. Biological Survey hired Murie as a wildlife biologist to conduct a study of Alaskan caribou, mapping migratory routes and estimating numbers. In 1927 the Survey assigned Murie to investigate the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, elk herd. In 1937 Murie accepted a council seat on the recently created Wilderness Society. He proved persuasive in helping to enlarge existing national park boundaries and to create additional new units. Murie’s concern for a more ecological boundary for the elk of the Grand Teton area helped to create Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943.
In 1945 Murie became director of the Wilderness Society and an advocate of the National Park Service. He lobbied successfully against the construction of large federal dams within Glacier National Park and Dinosaur National Monument. Murie spearheaded the crusade to establish an unprecedented 8.9 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
For his lifelong service to wilderness protection, Murie received numerous awards, including the Audubon Award, the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award, the Wildlife Society’s Aldo Leopold Memorial Award for outstanding publication, and a Fulbright Fellowship. He authored several books, including Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks, The Elk of North America and The Field Sketches of Olaus J. Murie and co-authored Wapiti Wilderness with his wife Mardy.
In 1924 Olaus married Margaret (Mardy) Thomas, who is now deceased. The Muries have three children, Martin, Joanne and Donald, and eleven grandchildren. Olaus Murie died on October 21, 1963, at age 74.