Woodsy Owl is an owl icon for the United States Forest Service most famous for the motto "Give a hoot — don't pollute!". His current motto is "Lend a hand — care for the land!" Woodsy's target audience are children five to eight years old, and he was designed to be seen as a mentor to children, providing them with information and advice to help them appreciate nature. Harold Bell of Western Publishing (and producer of Smokey Bear public service announcements), along with Glen Kovar and Chuck Williams, originally created the mascot in 1970 as part of a United States Forest Service campaign to raise awareness of protecting the environment.
Woodsy's slogan was officially introduced on September 15, 1971 by Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin. The first Woodsy Owl public service spot was created by US Forest ranger Chuck Williams, who was the Forest Service's technical consultant for the Lassie TV show which featured a Forest Service ranger and his family. Williams, along with Bell and Glenn Kovar, also of the US Forest Service, brainstormed the idea for the Woodsy motif name together in Los Angeles, California, in 1970. In 1974, the U.S. Congress passed the Woodsy Owl Act (Public Law 93-318) to protect the image of the character.
Despite the documented history of Woodsy Owl's creation, various rival claims to his parentage have emerged over the years. Several individuals have stated that they invented Woodsy Owl as children as part of a nationwide poster contest. The Forest History Society has said that no evidence of such has been provided.
Several songs have been used in conjunction with the Woodsy Owl environmental campaign, including "The Ballad of Woodsy Owl" and "Help Woodsy Spread the Word." Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, the drummer for "Weird Al" Yankovic, recorded "The Woodsy Owl Song."
Several other environmentalism, conservation or outdoor themed comics have appeared over the years including Mark Trail and Smokey Bear. Woodsy Owl appeared as a comic by Gold Key Comics from 1973 to 1976. In 1997, Woodsy Owl's design was given a huge overhaul.
- Smokey Bear
- Johnny Horizon
- Insheeption, Woodsy is spoofed in this episode of the fourteenth season of South Park.
- Mark Trail
- "Conservation2520Education-2520Woodsy2520Owl". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
- Fuller-Bennett, Harald and Iris Velez (Spring 2012). "Woodsy Owl at 40". Forest History Today. Forest History Society. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- "PSW at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival". [PSW News]. August 2005.
- Fuller-Bennett, Harald (Spring 2012). "I Created Woodsy Owl". Forest History Today. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "Don Markstein's Toonopedia "Woodsy Owl"". Toonopedia.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
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