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Rosalie Edge wasn’t a lifelong conservationist – after dedicating her youth to suffrage and civil rights, she began writing about wildlife at the age of 52, with the hopes of dispelling the myths that lead to mass killings. Rosalie had to fight the male dominated conservation groups of the time to convince them to rein in hunters and ranchers, who often killed animals they felt were threatening their leisure time and livelihoods. In 1929, she created the Emergency Conservation Committee to “protect all species while they were common so they did not become rare”; this was a drastic change in point of view, as conservationists of the time generally only protected the species which offered them the most economic benefit. In 1934, she learned of a property in the Appalachian Mountains which was used for bird of prey trophy killing – not content to try to talk the owners into doing the right thing, Rosalie bought the property, stopped the hunt and created a bird sanctuary that is known today as Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
Human-wildlife conflict is as old as time, and Rosalie Edge was at the forefront of our current movement to stop the senseless killing of creatures who are considered nuisances, but in reality, are responding to our encroachment on their territory.