Wildlife Conservation Society: Library & Archives

Hornaday Wildlife Conservation Scrapbooks

Volume 8 documents Hornaday’s campaign against the Louisiana Gulf Coast Club, a private hunting club developed by Edward Avery McIlhenny. By the time he proposed the Club in 1922, McIlhenny (son of Tabasco sauce inventor Edmund McIlhenny) was considered a conservation hero by many. He founded the Bird City wildlife refuge, credited with restoring the snowy egret population, which had fallen to alarmingly low levels by the 1890s. In 1911, with Charles Willis Ward, he created the 13,000-acre Ward-McIlhenny Refuge in southern Louisiana, the state’s first privately donated game refuge; additionally, he was instrumental in establishing the Sage Wildlife Refuge, donated to Louisiana by Mrs. Russell Sage in 1913, and the Rockefeller Refuge, created in 1914.

His plans for the Louisiana Gulf Coast Club, however, pitted McIlhenny against other conservationists—of whom Hornaday was perhaps the most vehement in his opposition. The Gulf Coast Club was to be located in an area between the Ward-McIlhenny Refuge and the Rockefeller Refuge. The land would be seeded to attract birds, creating ideal hunting grounds for club members, who were expected to pay a $1,000 membership fee. McIlhenny and the Club’s supporters believed that this plan would benefit wildlife protection by limiting hunting in an area that had long been a haven for illegal hunters.

In response to these plans, Hornaday condemned the Club as a “slaughter pen” that would benefit only its rich members. He was joined by the New York Zoological Society, the National Audubon Society, the Sage and Rockefeller Foundations, and the Louisiana Sportsmen’s League. Additionally, public opposition to the Club, fanned by Hornaday, flared up in newspapers across the country.

The negative publicity devastated the Louisiana Gulf Coast Club, and its death-knell was finally sounded in 1924 when Grace Rainey Rogers donated 26,000 acres of land sought by the Club to the National Audubon Society.

Volume 8 is composed of correspondence regarding the Club and of Club publications. Also included is a mock-up for a Club prospectus that features several photographs, including images of McIlhenny and his family and one that appears to show Theodore Roosevelt hunting in the region. The items associated with this scrapbook appear never to have been mounted into a book. They are displayed here in the order in which they were found by WCS Archives staff in 2012.

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