Theodore Roosevelt Wildlife Refuge opened in Mississippi
Thanks to Michelle Bryant for finding this one.........
November 3, 2008
Roosevelt Wildlife Refuge opened in state
By James Cummins
THE NEW Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge recently was dedicated.
Located near Rolling Fork, the 6,600-acre refuge, named for our 26th president, is the birthplace of fair-chase hunting ethics - and, of course, the teddy bear.
Wildlife Mississippi, in partnership with the Boone and Crockett Club, worked with Sen. Thad Cochran and Congressman Bennie Thompson in crafting the legislation that created the refuge to protect one of the greatest pieces of hallowed ground in America's sporting history, or as Minor Buchanan says, "the most famous hunt to have ever taken place on American soil."
In 1902, Roosevelt traveled to Mississippi to settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. While there he hunted bears in the Mississippi Delta, the same location that later would become the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge.
Because of the area's wild and endless swamps, the hosts for the hunt were concerned for the president's safety. Much to Roosevelt's disappointment, they kept him in camp until a bear was treed. Roosevelt's omission from the actual chase was unsettling to a man who prided himself in living the hardy life - the tougher the hunt, the better.
Once hounds had exhausted a small bear after a long chase, the president's guide, Holt Collier, roped the bear, tied it to a tree and sent for Roosevelt. When the president arrived on the scene, he refused to kill the defenseless bear.
The next day, political cartoonist Clifford Berryman of The Washington Post depicted Roosevelt refusing to hurt the helpless bear. The cartoon's caption - "Drawing the Line in Mississippi" - referred to both the border dispute and the hunting incident.
This cartoon sparked the imagination of the country and a shopkeeper in Brooklyn, N.Y., who crafted two plush stuffed bears for display in his shop's window. The popularity of the novelty critters quickly grew and the teddy bear was born.
In addition, the concept of fair-chase was born and it became a key tenet of Boone and Crockett Club.
It was a series of events that changed hunting and conservation forever. It was the beginning of a modern hunting ethic that dictates taking game only in fair-chase conditions.
This ethic is the cornerstone of sportsmanship and the foundation for today's game laws.
I'm happy that the place where it all started is now in public ownership and protected forever. This is truly something all Mississippians will be proud of.