Robert Porter Allen Biography
THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WHOOPING CRANE: The Robert Porter Allen Story is timely and will capture the hearts of anyone who appreciates wildlife conservation and enjoys a true adventure story. The Robert Porter Allen story is best described as Indiana Jones meets John James Audubon.
Nominated for the George Perkins Marsh Award for environmental history.
Nominated for the Washington State Book Award for history/general nonfiction.
Hidden somewhere in north central Canada, possibly as far north as the Arctic Circle, less than thirty whooping cranes are nesting and raising their young for what may be the last time. The year is 1947, and the Canadian wilderness is changing at an alarming rate. Airplane travel is accelerating development of the wilderness. Soon every corner of virgin forest will be explored for ores, oil, timber, fish resources, and anything man finds useful. Unless the nesting site can be located and protected, all conservation efforts to save the whooping crane will fail.
The Canadian Wildlife Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined the National Audubon Society in a three-way stewardship to locate the nesting site. The first two searches in the summers of 1945 and 46 have failed. The number of cranes migrating to their winter home in Austwell, Texas continues to plummet. John Baker, director of Audubon, grows desperate. He calls in his most tenacious ornithologist, Robert Porter Allen, who has just returned from serving his country in World War II.
This is the true story of the whooping crane’s survival and the man who brought them back from the brink of extinction, a feat that changed the course of history and led to the passage of the Endangered Species Act. Robert Porter Allen marched across America firing up the country with never-before-seen enthusiasm for an environmental cause. Before televisions began to appear in American homes, before the Internet provided global information in mere seconds, Allen and his Audubon team triggered a media blitz equal to that of a decade before when Seabiscuit mania had America enthralled with a racehorse.
The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane follows ornithologist Robert Porter Allen’s nine-year crusade to find the last remaining whooping crane nesting site, and is a fine survey of research and his resulting lectures and work against Florida overdevelopment, habitat loss, and unregulated hunting. The resulting public involvement, thanks to his efforts, led to a media blitz that led to thousands of citizens helping tracks the birds’ migration. Chapters follow Allen’s life and contributions and the ecology of Florida birds in particular, and make for a powerful nature account highly recommended for any nature history collection.
—The Midwest Book Review