Frank and John Craighead

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Frank and John Craighead
BornFrank: (1916-08-14)August 14, 1916
John: (1916-08-14)August 14, 1916
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedFrank: October 21, 2001(2001-10-21) (aged 85)
Jackson, Wyoming, U.S.
John: September 18, 2016(2016-09-18) (aged 100)
Missoula, Montana, U.S.
Alma mater University of Michigan
OccupationConservation, falconry, grizzly bear biology
Years active1934–1976

Frank Cooper Craighead Jr. (August 14, 1916 – October 21, 2001) and John Johnson Craighead (August 14, 1916 – September 18, 2016), twin brothers, were American conservationists, naturalists, and researchers who made important contributions to the study of falconry and grizzly bear biology. [1] Born in Washington, D.C. where both graduated from Western High School in 1935, the brothers began collecting and identifying animals and plants they found alongside the Potomac, and soon expanded their interests to birds and hawks, going west in 1934 to begin studying falconry. After the war, during which they were employed as survival trainers, they each married and resumed their work in falconry. During the 1950s they expanded their work to other animals, including many species living in and around Yellowstone, and eventually separated. [2]

Conservation movement social and political advocacy for protecting natural resources

The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental, and social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including animal and plant species as well as their habitat for the future.

Falconry hunting by means of a trained bird of prey

Falconry is the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. Small animals and larger animals were hunted, squirrels and rabbits often fell victim to these birds. There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an Austringer flies a hawk or an eagle. In modern falconry, the red-tailed hawk, the Harris's hawk, and the peregrine falcon are some of the more commonly used birds of prey. The practice of hunting with a conditioned falconry bird is also called "hawking" or "gamehawking", although the words "hawking" and "hawker" have become used so much to refer to petty traveling traders, that the terms "falconer" and "falconry" now apply to most use of trained birds of prey to catch game. Many contemporary practitioners still use these words in their original meaning, however.

Grizzly bear Subspecies of mammal

The grizzly bear is a large population of the brown bear inhabiting North America. Scientists generally do not use the name grizzly bear but call it the North American brown bear.


In 1959 their careers merged again, this time to begin a 12-year study of grizzly bears in Yellowstone, as the animals were considered threatened by increased human activity; however a 1971 disagreement with the National Park Service ended their Yellowstone studies; however it continued elsewhere in Montana, including the Scapegoat Wilderness. [3] After 1976 their work was mostly confined to field guides and educating the public about environmentalism; however, field ecology continued until Frank's death in 2001 from Parkinson's disease.

National Park Service United States federal agency

The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management, while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment.

Scapegoat Wilderness

The Scapegoat Wilderness consists of 239,936 acres (971 km2) spread across three different National Forests in the U.S. state of Montana. Created by an act of Congress in 1972, the wilderness is located in Lewis and Clark, Helena and Lolo National Forests. The Scapegoat Wilderness is a part of the 1.5 million acre (6,070 km2) Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex as it shares a boundary with the Bob Marshall Wilderness, which in turn is connected to the Great Bear Wilderness further north.

Parkinsons disease long-term degenerative neurological disorder that mainly affects movement

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. As the disease worsens, non-motor symptoms become increasingly common. The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur. Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease. Depression and anxiety are also common, occurring in more than a third of people with PD. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep, and emotional problems. The main motor symptoms are collectively called "parkinsonism", or a "parkinsonian syndrome".

In 1998, the National Audubon Society named the brothers among the top 100 conservationists of the 20th century. [4]

National Audubon Society non-profit organisation in the USA

The National Audubon Society (Audubon) is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation. Located in the United States and incorporated in 1905, Audubon is one of the oldest of such organizations in the world and uses science, education and grassroots advocacy to advance its conservation mission. It is named in honor of John James Audubon, a Franco-American ornithologist and naturalist who painted, cataloged, and described the birds of North America in his famous book Birds of America published in sections between 1827 and 1838.

Early life

Frank Cooper Craighead and John Johnson Craighead were born in Washington, D.C. on August 14, 1916. Their father, Frank Craighead Sr., was an environmentalist and founder of the modern environmentalist Craighead family. [4] Their sister, Jean Craighead George, was an author of books with nature and environmental themes for children and young adults. The twin brothers, almost identical to one another, spent much of their time collecting animals and plants along the banks of the Potomac while out of school, but their breakthrough with wildlife came in 1927, when they raised a baby owl at their home. Their interest in hawks and owls grew, and by the early 1930s they regularly visited hawk and owl nests all along the Potomac. Eventually, after high school, they moved to Pennsylvania and attended college there, graduating with science degrees in 1939.

Jean Craighead George American novelist and nature writer

Jean Carolyn Craighead George was an American writer of more than one hundred books for children and young adults, including the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves and Newbery runner-up My Side of the Mountain. Common themes in George's works are the environment and the natural world. Beside children's fiction, she wrote at least two guides to cooking with wild foods and one autobiography published 30 years before her death, Journey Inward.

Owl order of birds

Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl.

Hawk group of diurnal birds of prey

Hawks are a group of medium-sized diurnal birds of prey of the family Accipitridae. Hawks are widely distributed and vary greatly in size.

At age 20, the brothers wrote their first article for National Geographic Society, published in the July 1937 issue, Adventures with Birds of Prey. They would write a total of 14 articles for the magazine between 1937 and 1976. [5] During the war, R. S. Dharmakumarsinhji, an Indian prince living in Bhavnagar, impressed by the Craigheads' 1937 and 1950 articles, invited them to visit India, where they learned about Indian ways of life, but returned home in 1942, as they missed home and their studies of falconry. They also became deeply opposed to killing animals after participating in Indian hunts during their stay. [4] After coming home again, they continued survival training until 1950, during that year they also received their Ph.Ds in 1949 from the University of Michigan. [1] During this time they practiced much wildlife research in Wyoming and Montana, writing Cloud Gardens in the Tetons in 1948 and Wildlife Adventuring in Jackson Hole in 1956.

The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational organizations in the world. Founded in 1888, its interests include geography, archaeology, and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history. The National Geographic Society's logo is a yellow portrait frame—rectangular in shape—which appears on the margins surrounding the front covers of its magazines and as its television channel logo. In partnership with The Walt Disney Company, the Society operates the magazine, TV channels, a website, worldwide events, and other media operations.

Bhavnagar Metropolitan City in Gujarat, India

Bhavnagar is a city in the Bhavnagar district of the Saurashtra region of the Gujarat state of India. It was founded in 1724 by Bhavsinhji Gohil (1703–1764). It was the capital of Bhavnagar State, which was a Princely state before it was merged into the Indian Union in 1948. It is now administrative headquarter of the Bhavnagar district.

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Later career

In 1950, Frank and John were survival consultants to the Strategic Air Command, and in 1951 they organized survival training schools for the Air Force at Mountain Home and McCall, Idaho. From 1953 to 1955 Frank conducted classified defense research. His log home in Moose wasn't winterized, so the family lived in various places around the Jackson Hole valley, including stays on the Murie Ranch, the old Budge house in Wilson, and a house in Jackson. Frank and John went their separate ways in the early 1950s, when John accepted a permanent position with the University of Montana and Frank decided to work outside of Academia. From 1955 to 1957 he managed the Desert Game Range outside Las Vegas, Nevada, for the USFWS. This was the era of nuclear testing and Frank had great concerns about the effects of radiation, but his efforts to measure and document radiation levels on the refuge were not encouraged by the federal government. [1]

Strategic Air Command 1946-1992 United States Air Force major command; predecessor of Air Force Global Strike Command

Strategic Air Command (SAC) was both a United States Department of Defense (DoD) Specified Command and a United States Air Force (USAF) Major Command (MAJCOM), responsible for Cold War command and control of two of the three components of the U.S. military's strategic nuclear strike forces, the so-called "nuclear triad," with SAC having control of land-based strategic bomber aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs.

McCall, Idaho Town in Idaho, United States

McCall is a resort town on the western edge of Valley County, Idaho, United States. Named after its founder, Tom McCall, it is situated on the southern shore of Payette Lake, near the center of the Payette National Forest. The population was 2,991 as of the 2010 census, up from 2,084 in 2000.

Grizzly bears

During 1959, Frank and John's careers merged again. At the request of Yellowstone National Park, they began a 12-year study of grizzly bears. Frank would drive from Pennsylvania, arriving in Yellowstone early in the spring and staying until late in the fall when the bears denned. Esther, Frank's wife waited until the kids were out of school and then drove to Moose for the summer. In late August she would load up the station wagon and drive back to Boiling Springs. By 1966 the long cross-country drives had become too much. Frank added indoor plumbing to his cabin on Antelope Flats, and he and Esther moved to Moose, Wyoming permanently. The brothers became famous in radio tracking and studying the grizzlies and black bears, by satellite, pioneered tranquilization, and studied the negative effects of grizzlies wandering outside the park boundaries. The Craigheads tagged 30 grizzlies in their first year, 37 in their second, and eventually, over 600 bears were transmitted and studied. They were often treed or chased by bears, but no injuries occurred. They went through the tragedy of seeing a bear die after being tagged in 1963, and the fact that many bears died at age 5 or 6 after human encounters persuaded the Craigheads to ask park officials to enforce animal rules more strictly. [4]

That sadly ended in 1971 when the Park Service planned to erase human effect on the park by closing the artificial food supplies (dumps) that the grizzlies depended on, which resulted in more aggressive bears being killed after many fatal maulings in the 1970s. The Craigheads were barred from doing any more work in the park by 1971 for speaking against this; however, they continued to do bear research in Montana until the 1980s. [1]

Writing the National Wild & Scenic River Act

The brothers, especially Frank, were deeply concerned about preserving the West's rivers, and after educating the public about how vital rivers were for water, recreation and fishing they created the Environmental Research Institute, which paved the way for clean water protection and President Johnson signing the National Wild and Scenic Rivers bill of 1965. The Craigheads ended their active research after Frank's log cabin in Moose burned down in 1978. [1]

Personal lives

Frank married Esther Craighead in 1945. Meanwhile, John had married Margaret Smith, a mountain climber and daughter of a Grand Teton National Park ranger. Frank and Esther, and John and Margaret built identical log cabins on their property in Moose, and began families. While Frank was completing his various field studies during the late 1940s and early 1950s, he and Esther had three children - Lance, Charlie, and Jana - all born in Jackson at the old log cabin.

Frank's health deteriorated due to Parkinson's disease he had been diagnosed with in 1987, during his second marriage and seven years after Esther died, and he died in 2001 at the age of 85. [6] The Craighead institute has offices in both Bozeman and Moose and is run by Frank's son Lance. [1]

John Craighead lived in Missoula, Montana. He turned 100 in August 2016. [7] He died in South Missoula on September 18, 2016 at the age of 100. [8]

Selected publications

Related Research Articles

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Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) is one of the last remaining large, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone of the Earth. It is located within the northern Rocky Mountains, in areas of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana, and eastern Idaho, and is about 18 million acres. Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Caldera 'hotspot' are within it.

Madison River river in Montana and Wyoming, United States

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John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway protected area

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Caribou-Targhee National Forest

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Teton Wilderness

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Outline of Yellowstone National Park Wikimedia list article

The following articles relate to the history, geography, geology, flora, fauna, structures and recreation in Yellowstone National Park.

History of wolves in Yellowstone

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Ecology of the Rocky Mountains

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Thomas D. Mangelsen is an American nature and wildlife photographer and conservationist. He is most famous for his photography of wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as he has lived inside the zone in Jackson, Wyoming, for over 40 years. In 2015, he and nature author Todd Wilkinson created a book, The Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek, featuring a grizzly bear known as Grizzly 399, named so due to her research number. He has been active in the movement to keep the Yellowstone area grizzly bears on the Endangered Species List. Mangelsen is also known for trekking to all seven continents to photograph a diverse assortment of nature and wildlife. A photograph he took in 1988 titled, "Catch of the Day" has been labeled "the most famous wildlife photograph in the world". In May 2018, he was profiled on CBS 60 Minutes. He has received dozens of accolades throughout the decades.

Grizzly 399 is a grizzly bear of the species U. arctos horribilis inhabiting Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest. Grizzly 399 is the most famous brown bear mother in the world, with her own Facebook and Twitter accounts. She is followed by as many as 40 wildlife photographers, and millions of tourists come to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to see her and the other grizzly bears.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Frank Craighead Legacy". Craighead Institute. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  2. Cloud Gardens in the Tetons, National Geographic, June 1948.
  3. Studying Grizzly Habitat by Satellite. National Geographic, July 1976.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Croke, Vicki Constantine (November 11, 2007). "The Brothers Wild". The Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  5. The Complete National Geographic[ full citation needed ]
  6. Martin, Douglas (November 4, 2001). "Frank Craighead, 85, an Outdoorsman and a Protector of the Grizzly, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  7. Staff (2016-08-14). "John Craighead Turns 100". Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  8. "Legendary wildlife scientist John Craighead dead at 100". Independent Record. Retrieved September 19, 2016.