Just weeks after his appointment in 1933 as chair of game management at the University of Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold gave the first of a series of talks on conservation on the College of the Air. Unfortunately, we don’t have the recordings but we do have the transcripts thanks to Stan Temple, the Beers-Bascom Professor of Emeritus in Conservation at the UW-Madison. Temple held the same position as Leopold until his retirement.
Leopold’s first talk on September 8, 1933, was aimed at rural landowners and introduced his then new idea of increasing game bird populations by leaving food and cover on farmland.
“At this season when the frost will soon be on the pumpkin, and the first sumacs are turning red, many a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of game birds.
The trouble is that in most places game birds have become scarce. The city dweller interested in game can do little about it except to make speeches about conservation. The farmer, however, can actually raise a game crop on his farm, which is a much more useful service to conservation than making speeches. Anybody can deplore the passing of the good old days, but to help bring them back is the special privilege of farmers.
Most people refuse to believe that this can be done. Just the same it is being done, and right here in Wisconsin. For example, I know one group of seven farmers near Riley in Dane County who had one covey of quail between them in 1931. Today they have 25 coveys. They have not planted a single quail. The increase came automatically when they began leaving food and cover for the birds.
It does not matter whether your object is better hunting or just the pleasure of having wild birds around – the method of cropping is the same. Leave food and cover and the crop will raise itself.”