On this last day of Women’s History Month, let’s remember Mollie Hanna Beattie. Ms. Beattie was the first female director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, nominated by then-President Bill Clinton. However, that may not be the accomplishment for which she is best remembered.
During her abbreviated time as director, Beattie successfully advocated for the reintroduction of gray wolves (Canis lupus) to Yellowstone National Park. Her argument was based on the reintroduction’s benefits to the entire ecosystem, not solely for the sake of the wolves. There was substantial opposition to the reintroduction. Beattie recognized opponents’ concerns and agreed that the agency would work in partnership to resolve issues. Her persuasiveness carried the day. Then, she personally released some of the introduced wolves to the park.
Perhaps less well known but critically important were her initiatives to expand habitat conservation plans and wildlife refuges throughout the country.
Beattie only served for three years before she was compelled to resign for health reasons. Shortly after, she died from brain cancer, gone too soon, at only 49 years old.
In recognition of her work, one of the wolf packs in Yellowstone bears her name. You can learn more about them here: https://www.yellowstonewolf.org/yellowstones_wolves.php?pack_id=6
She was also honored with having her name attached to the 8 million-acre Mollie Beattie Wilderness, a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Check it out here: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/gateways/12820
Can you imagine what she might have accomplished with more time?
More about the opposition and reintroduction of endangered species from a legal perspective (the footnotes make for some great reading) — https://repository.uchastings.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1508&context=hastings_environmental_law_journal