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Warden Paul Kroegel Picture

Warden Paul Kroegel

Paul Kroegel (1864 - 1948) was an early “bureaucrat” in name only, and was one of those “characters” that had history not produced him, he would have been invented. A boatbuilder and German immigrant from Chemnitz, Germany who arrived in the Sebastian, Florida, area in 1881 with his father, Kroegel homesteaded on an ancient Native American shell midden known as “Barker’s Bluff,” overlooking the Indian River lagoon. There, Kroegel formed an abiding interest in the fate of the brown pelicans that roosted on a 4-acre island known coincidently as Pelican Island. It was the last rookery for this species on the East Coast, and ornithologists who were drawn to the region mounted a campaign to protect the sanctuary, culminating with the hiring, in 1902, of Kroegel as an Audubon Society warden to protect

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Paul Kroegel (1864 - 1948) was an early “bureaucrat” in name only, and was one of those “characters” that had history not produced him, he would have been invented. A boatbuilder and German immigrant from Chemnitz, Germany who arrived in the Sebastian, Florida, area in 1881 with his father, Kroegel homesteaded on an ancient Native American shell midden known as “Barker’s Bluff,” overlooking the Indian River lagoon. There, Kroegel formed an abiding interest in the fate of the brown pelicans that roosted on a 4-acre island known coincidently as Pelican Island. It was the last rookery for this species on the East Coast, and ornithologists who were drawn to the region mounted a campaign to protect the sanctuary, culminating with the hiring, in 1902, of Kroegel as an Audubon Society warden to protect the island and its inhabitants from feather hunters and egg collectors. With President Theodore Roosevelt’s declaration of Pelican Island as the Nation’s first national wildlife refuge on March 14, 1903, Kroegel became the first Federal game warden. Kroegel guarded his charges with a passion, employing threat, a 10-gauge shotgun, and a keen eye to prevent disturbance or destruction of this tiny island and his beloved birds. The 5-foot-6-inch tall Kroegel wore a big hat to make himself appear taller, and he frequently positioned his sailboat between his birds and the faster boats of market gunners to forestall their destruction. Kroegel was, in essence, America’s first game warden and refuge manager, because most Federal wildlife refuge system activities trace their lineage back to Pelican Island and its solitary caretaker. Scanned in 2001 from original glass plates created in 1907.

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Author: George Nelson/USFWS

License: Public Domain Mark 1.0 (Public domain)
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Animals > Birds > Pelican Pictures
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15th September 2015
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