NWF's Adopt a Wildlife Acre Program

For decades there has been conflict between livestock and wildlife on public lands. National Wildlife Federation's Adopt a Wildlife Acre program resolves these conflicts in a manner that everyone wins—wildlife, ranchers and livestock. Adopt a Wildlife Acre today >>

Where's the Conflict?

Bison in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park - Yellowstone is home to the most diverse assortment of wildlife found anywhere in North America. But once these iconic species leave the protected borders of the park—their death rates rise dramatically! Grizzly bears and wolves are either killed or relocated when they attack livestock on National Forest lands where ranchers hold grazing privileges. Magnificent wildlife including bison and bighorn sheep may be killed or hazed out of fear they could transmit disease to livestock.

Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge

Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge - This incredible 1.1. million-acre refuge, along with adjacent public land, contains more intact prairie habitat than anywhere else in America. Yet livestock still graze on much of the refuge, and species like sage-grouse, pronghorn and prairie dogs must compete with livestock for habitat.

Our Solution: Adopt a Wildlife Acre

National Wildlife Federation’s Adopt a Wildlife Acre program addresses the conflicts between livestock and wildlife with a voluntary, market-based approach. We offer ranchers a fair price in exchange for their agreement to retire their public land grazing leases.

In most cases, livestock producers use our funds to relocate their livestock to areas without conflict. Wildlife has secure habitat, and ranchers’ cattle can graze in an area with fewer problems. It’s a win-win situation!

What began as a small program retiring a few acres here and there has grown into a force of National Wildlife Federation members and supporters securing more than 620,000 acres of vital habitat for wildlife!

See a complete list of retired allotments >>

Adopt Now

Help secure critical habitat for at-risk wildlife by adopting a wildlife acre today >>

Species You Can Help


BISON - The American bison is an iconic symbol of the great American West. Once there were more than 50 million bison roaming the U.S. But today there are only a few thousand roaming free. When they leave the protected boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, they’re often killed by government agents in fear they’ll spread disease to nearby cattle. In one recent hard winter when many bison left the park, more than 1,600 were killed.


GRAY WOLVES - The gray wolf was reintroduced to the Yellowstone area in 1995, and National Wildlife Federation was a leader in that effort. But more and more wolves are killed when they wander outside park borders onto adjoining national forest lands. 


GRIZZLY BEARS - Like the gray wolf, the Yellowstone grizzly is only secure in the park and its surrounding wilderness. When bears kill livestock on public land near the park, government agents are required to either kill or move them. The only significant grizzly populations remaining in the lower 48 states are in the Yellowstone area and in northwestern Montana.


BIGHORN SHEEP - Diseases and parasites carried by domestic sheep are readily transferred to wild bighorn sheep populations and have caused long-term population declines in many areas. Domestic sheep grazing on public land adjacent to bighorn sheep habitat pose a significant threat to the survival of this species.

How Does Adopting Wildlife Acres Work?

  1. NWF contacts ranchers who hold leases on allotments that are on our priority list for retirement. If the rancher is interested, we negotiate a price.

  2. Next, we approach the land management agency (the U.S. Forest Service) to make sure it’s willing to permanently close the allotment.

  3. When all three parties voluntarily agree, the agency retires the grazing permit. Through this program, we recognize the economic value of livestock grazing permits and fairly compensate ranchers for retiring their leases.

5 Adopt A Wildlife Acre Priorities

  • Focus on core recovery areas and key wildlife corridors
  • Prioritize domestic sheep allotments over cattle allotments (sheep create more conflict with wildlife)
  • Give preference to retirements that create large areas without livestock
  • Identify allotments with the greatest number and frequency of livestock losses
  • Restore wild free-ranging bison to their native grassland habitat.
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Adopt a Wildlife Acre Today!

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