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Smokey Bear: Celebrating 75 Years of Wildfire Prevention

Since 1944, Smokey Bear has been urging people to be more careful with fire, particularly in America’s forests.

“Only YOU can prevent wildfires.” Since 1944, Smokey Bear has been urging people to be more careful with fire, particularly in America’s forests.

The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) will join the USDA Forest Service, the Ad Council and other national partners in celebrating Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday on August 9.

“Smokey Bear is one of the world’s most recognizable characters,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester. “Smokey’s message remains as important today as it was in 1944.”

Smokey Bear is the heart of the longest-running public service campaign in American history. In 2014, Smokey Bear was inducted into the Ad Council’s Advertising Week Walk of Fame for being voted America’s “Favorite Advertising Icon.”

The success of the campaign has allowed Smokey Bear to receive some impressive accolades throughout the years.

  • In 1952, Congress passed the Smokey Bear Act to preserve his legacy.
  • In 1964, the United States Postal Service gave Smokey Bear his own zip code because of the large amount of mail he received. The only other individual with this honor is the President.
  • In 1984, the United States Postal Service again recognized Smokey Bear’s importance by giving him his own series of postage stamps.
  • In 2012, Smokey Bear went where no other bear has gone – outer space. A Smokey Bear plush toy accompanied astronaut Joe Acaba to the International Space Station.

“Smokey Bear has been a vital part of the country’s wildfire prevention initiative,” Bozeman said. “The MFC regularly uses Smokey Bear in our outreach programs to teach young people about the dangers of being careless with fire.”

Though Smokey Bear has been essential to the reduction of unwanted, human-caused wildfires over the last 75 years, he still needs help. Even today, nearly nine out of 10 wildfires nationwide are caused by people.

“With Mississippi’s fall wildfire season approaching, it’s important for us to remember Smokey’s message that people are the best instruments for preventing wildfires,” said Bozeman.

For more information about Smokey Bear’s history, visit

To learn more about how you can prepare for the fall wildfire season in Mississippi or to learn how you can schedule Smokey Bear, visit or like and follow @MSForestryComm on Facebook and Twitter.