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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about the Audubon Society.


CURWOOD: One hundred years ago, high fashion ran to opera gloves and ornate hats embellished with feathers. The more feathers, the better. Then one day, Boston Brahmin Harriet Lawrence Hemenway, a plumed hat wearer herself, happened to read an article detailing the devastation that feather hunters inflicted: heaps of skin, dead birds left to rot, and orphaned chicks left to starve. Aghast at this fashion statement that was killing 5 million birds a year, Ms. Hemenway organized her fellow blue bloods. A century ago this month they formed the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Other states followed, and eventually there was a national Audubon Society. The original Massachusetts organization now has more than 50,000 members; the national society has 10 times that number. Ms. Hemenway's society was named for the renowned bird painter, John James Audubon. Ms. Hemenway would have to find a different name if she were addressing the same issues now. It is the small fur-bearing animals that are hunted for today's fashion demands. In particular, river otters, red foxes, and raccoons are in fatal vogue.



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