Affectionately remembered as Ã¢â¬ÅMr. ConservationÃ¢â¬Â and, simply, Ã¢â¬ÅGabe,Ã¢â¬Â Ira Noel Gabrielson (1889 - 1977) was a giant in the history of the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as a famed researcher with established scientific credentials in both wildlife and fisheries management. He started as a rodent control agent and game manager, but rose to succeed the famed J.N. Ã¢â¬ÅDingÃ¢â¬Â Darling as second chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, predecessor to todayÃ¢â¬â¢s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which Gabrielson also served as director from 1940 to 1946. Noted for his keen political instincts, Gabrielson was instrumental the passage of several milestone pieces of legislation that shaped the refuge system, including the Ã¢â¬ÅFederal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act,Ã¢â¬Â the so-called Ã¢â¬ÅDuck Stamp ActÃ¢â¬Â that created a stable source of revenue for the creation of new or expanded refuge units, and the Ã¢â¬ÅPittman-Robertson ActÃ¢â¬Â that levied an excise tax on the sale of sporting arms and ammunition to underwrite state conservation efforts. Under his leadership, the refuge system expanded rapidly, adding millions of acres of wetlands and other areas vital to North American waterfowl. Highly charismatic, energetic, humorous, intelligent, and devoted to science, Gabrielson was at heart a field biologist. He once complained that working every day in an office is Ã¢â¬Ålike serving a prison sentence.Ã¢â¬Â His contemporaries rated him on par with the venerated Aldo Leopold in what he contributed to wildlife conservation during his lifetime. Here, Gabrielson releases a wild Pacific Coast mallard, caught a day earlier in San Francisco, at Roaches Run near Washington, D.C., on March 8, 1940—one of 11 wild ducks that were described at the time as the "first migratory waterfowl to be flown across the continent by airplane and freed some 3,000 miles from their usual lanes of flight." The release was a test of the the Biological Survey’s ability to track banded ducks via gold-plated, numbered leg bands. Today, such movement of domestic wildlife around the continent would probably be frowned upon by many biologists, and undertaken only under very controlled conditions within contiguous states.Hide.