Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

December 1975


In 1957 the noted ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy and other landowners on Long Island went to court in an effort to enjoin the U.S. Department of Agriculture from the aerial spraying of DDT to "eradicate" the gypsy moth. This event was years before Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. It may have been the first of the modern environmental law suits, although no one called it that. Certainly it was a forerunner of the modern environmental law organizations, because about ten years later the Environmental Defense Fund, was born, interestingly, in Dr. Murphy's neighborhood on Long Island. EDF's first great task and achievement was to nail down in the law the scientific case against DDT and so fraternal with its manufacturers - - they could not see the facts before their faces.