Valgene Lehmann: Early Pioneer in Wildlife Management Page: 1
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Valgene Lehmann - Early Pioneer in Wildlife Management
"Texan Val Lehmann has probably made a greater contribution to the future of conservation and wildlife than
any man since Noah filled the Ark."
- Southern Outdoors Magazine, 1968
Val Lehmann was a pioneer in wildlife management.
The above quote reflects the influential role Lehmann
played in the early years of wildlife conservation in North
America. Lehmann was also one of the first full-time
wildlife biologists hired by a privately-owned ranch in
the United States.
Lehmann is known for his adaptability as a field
biologist and his extensive knowledge of the history and
ecology of the Rio Grande Plain and Coastal Prairies. In
Texas Parade (1970), L. A. Wilke describes Val Lehmann
as "a wiry man of medium build, his face tanned by
the hot South Texas sun...in some ways he looks like a
modern cowboy...and speaks Spanish as fluently as his
Lehmann was an expert on the ecology of flora
and fauna in South Texas. The late Dr. James Teer
(1926-2012), the third Director of the Welder Wildlife
Foundation wrote, "He is an interesting man. What a
great experience it is to sit with him in a quiet place when
he talks of the ecology of the Brush Country. He has no
peers in his understanding and interpretation of the natural
world in that area..."
From his observations, Lehmann created original
concepts and tools that biologists and ranchers use
today. A keen observer of nature, Lehmann established
high standards for data collection on quail, turkey, and
Attwater's prairie-chickens. He created record-keeping
protocols that have been passed through the years.
THE EARLY YEARS, 1934-1945
Val Lehmann was one of the few active biologists
in the formative years of wildlife management during
* Christina Tewes is affiliated with Wild Cat Conservation,
Inc., a not-for-profit organization supporting management,
conservation, and education/outreach for wild cats.
the 1930s. This period coincided with the publication
of Game Management in 1933 by Aldo Leopold, the
"Father of Wildlife Management," and the inception of
the scientific Journal of Wildlife Management in 1937.
Even earlier, Lehmann had been observing quail during
his youth along the Brazos River tributaries in Washington
County near his Brenham home in Central Texas. This
period of Lehmann's work occurred years before the
seminal book "A Sand County Almanac" was published
by Leopold in 1949.
Lehmann's early correspondence with other pioneers
of the wildlife profession was also noteworthy. In a
letter (June 15, 1934) to Lehmann from Paul Errington,
Assistant Professor at Iowa State College, the soon-to-be
famous Errington discusses potential problems using
"dummy nests" to study depredation by predators on
quail eggs. A few months later (October 5, 1934), Her-
bert Stoddard wrote to Lehmann about the use of quail
crops to reveal the food habits of this important game bird
(see letter on page 7). These individuals, Errington and
Stoddard, gained reputations as intellectual giants in the
founding of modern wildlife management.
Val Lehmann examining eggs of the endangered Attwater's
prairie-chicken on the Bernard Prairie, Colorado County,
Texas, Spring 1938 (Photo by E. P. Haddon).
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Tewes, Christina. Valgene Lehmann: Early Pioneer in Wildlife Management, text, 2014; Kingsville, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth653306/m1/3/: accessed June 14, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.