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Pioneers of Environmental Protection

Guy Bradley

Guy BradleyBorn: 1870

Died: July 8, 1905, killed in the line of duty near Flamingo, Florida 


One of the first wardens commissioned to enforce wildlife protection laws.

Environmental Legacy

As one of the first game wardens, Guy Bradley was a pioneer in the protection of Everglades' wildlife.

At the turn of the century, wading birds in the Everglades were being relentlessly slaughtered by hunters. The hunters were killing the birds for their large, colorful and exotic feathers, called plumes, which were used to decorate fashionable hats of the day. Alarmed by the looming extinction of these bird species, the Audubon Society acted to protect the remaining rookeries, or breeding colonies, from further harm. In November 1902, at the urging of Audubon Society members, Guy Bradley, a Monroe County Deputy, was hired to protect south Florida's wading birds from hunters.

Bradley was known as a fearless and brave warden, with an extensive knowledge of the region and the birds that lived there. He traveled thousands of miles in his boat, Audubon, to guard the birds and was willing to undergo any hardship. Bradley was genuinely proud to report any increase in bird populations.

On July 8, 1905, Bradley was attempting to arrest a well-known plume hunter for killing egrets on Cape Sable when he was shot and killed. The following day, Bradley's body was found in his boat still adrift off Bradley Key, the island that now bears his name. The incident aroused public outrage and laws were soon enacted to protect the birds' nesting colonies.

Today, Bradley is regarded as an Everglades hero. In 1988, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation established a national award, The Guy Bradley Award, to recognize achievements in wildlife law enforcement. The Guy Bradley Lifetime Conservation Award originated in 1997 by the National Audubon Society Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Campaign to honor individuals who promote conservation and offer workable conservation solutions.

Guy M. Bradley was a testament to the value of wildlife law enforcement in protecting endangered species.

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