Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists

Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists

Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists

Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists

Excerpt

The widow of Charles Noel Edge was sitting in the swank lobby of the Robert Driscoll Hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas, when she was spotted by staff members of the National Audubon Society. The sighting on November 12, 1962, caused a muffled stir, as if a rare bird had been identified. Mrs. Edge—Rosalie, as her few intimates called her—was the legend of the conservation movement. At eighty-five she still ran the two organizations she had started in the 1930s: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pennsylvania, the world’s first preserve for birds of prey, and the Manhattan-based Emergency Conservation Committee. The ECC was the most militant nature advocacy organization of its time and, some said, one of the most effective ever.

Edge, who lived in New York, had flown to Texas to attend the Audubon Society’s fifty-eighth annual meeting. Renowned bird artist and guidebook author Roger Tory Peterson was among those surprised to see her. He had met her when he was a teenager birding in Central Park in the 1920s, and in 1934 Rosalie Edge was among the first to receive an autographed copy of his groundbreaking Field Guide to the Birds of North America. At her invitation, Peterson joined the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary board of directors and served for almost twenty years. Though Madame Chairman often reprimanded him for arriving late at her meetings, he retained a soft spot in his heart for her based on the early faith she showed in him.

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