Aldo Leopold

Young Aldo Leopold
(WHS Collections)
Have you ever wondered about the world you live in? Why are there so many rabbits? What happens when a stream gets polluted? Where do birds go when they fly south? Aldo Leopold was curious about the world. He set out to take care of it and to teach others how to as well.

Aldo Leopold was born on January 11, 1887. He grew up near the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa. Aldo loved to spend his time outdoors hunting and fishing.

Aldo went to college to study forestry.
After he graduated, Aldo joined the US Forest Service. He worked in national forests in the southwestern United States. His job was to help manage wildlife populations.

Aldo discovered something important about nature. Many scientists thought that if you killed predators you could increase the number of prey animals. Aldo disagreed. He believed the process was more complex. He thought that predators such as wolves make herds of deer stronger. They do this by eating weak and sick animals. The animals that survive are stronger. Wildlife biologists now agree with him.

Aldo and his family moved to Madison in the early 1920s. He became a professor at UWMadison.

Aldo’s family had a cabin in Baraboo. They called it the Shack. He took careful notes about the plants and animals he saw there. He also observed how people impacted the environment
The Shack
(UWMadison Archives)

In 1949, his most famous book, A Sand County Almanac, was published. Aldo wrote that people needed moral rules telling them how to treat the environment. This land ethic would help preserve nature for future generations.

Aldo Leopold died in 1948, just before his book was published. His ideas changed the way people looked at the world around them.

Aldo Leopold

Learn more about Aldo Leopold by visiting the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona, Wisconsin.