Today is John Lacey Day in Iowa, honoring a prominent Iowa politician from a century ago who was a champion of wildlife. Lacey was a Mahaska County native, a Civil War veteran and he served seven terms in the U-S House. One of Lacey’s biggest contributions to conservation targeted a clothing style from the 1890s, the wearing of hats that contained bird feathers. The hats caused hunters to kill the birds in search of the feathers.Kathy Engstrom is a spokeswoman for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Today is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Lacey Bird Act, which made it a federal crime to take game caught illegally over state lines. Engstrom says Lacey also made strides in protecting national parks. She says he took a stand for national parks at a time when it wasn’t necessarily a popular position.The Lacey Bird Act was the first national legislation for wildlife protection. It regulated the taking of game and songbirds as well as the introduction of birds or animals where they hadn’t previously been. The Act is still in effect today, protecting wildlife.Lacey led the creation of the Antiquities Act of 1906 which is still used today to set aside lands with significant natural or cultural features — like the Effigy Mounds in northeastern Iowa. Lacey was an attorney in Oskaloosa before going to Congress.
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