The National Wildlife Federation

Donate Donate

Wildlife Conservation

The value of American wildlife spans economic, ecological, and spiritual realms. Wildlife create jobs through outdoor recreation, sustain food and water supplies, and help us develop meaningful bonds with our natural world. Unfortunately, over the last century many of our wildlife species have seriously declined due to rapid and large-scale changes to their habitats and ecosystems. We’re working to grow wildlife populations by transforming the way we approach wildlife conservation.

Under founder Ding Darling’s leadership, the National Wildlife Federation’s first priority was securing the passage of an act that supported the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, pairing dedicated resources and sound scientific wildlife management. This initial victory—the 1937 Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also called the Pittman-Robertson Act)—led to the recovery of dozens of birds and mammals and propelled our work with countless conservation partners in the following decades to secure funding for sportfish, protect habitat and endangered species, and improve the quality of our water, soil, and air.

This model for conservation has had enormous successes, but many other species are suffering declines. Today the National Wildlife Federation and its affiliates are taking a series of critical and timely steps to not only reverse the decline of American wildlife populations, but to significantly increase their numbers over the next 30 years. In a time of rapid change, these actions are vital to helping fish and wildlife and their habitats adapt to major shifts.

Recovering Wildlife Populations

The National Wildlife Federation protects and restores wildlife populations of both game and nongame species. Our work includes restoring bison to key public and tribal lands in the West, including the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. We work with local ranchers and tribal members to make restoration successful in their communities, and protect and connect habitat for bison, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, and other species through our Adopt a Wildlife Acre program.

Unique campaigns and initiatives shine a spotlight on species we’re actively working to protect. The National Wildlife Federation’s Save LA Cougars campaign advocates for a critical wildlife corridor for Southern California’s mountain lions. Part of the National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife™ program, Butterfly Heroes brings awareness to the plight of declining monarch butterfly populations. The program connects gardeners, kids, and families alike in creating habitats to help monarchs and other pollinators.

The National Wildlife Federation also works to recover threatened red wolves, reverse the decline of mule deer, and save the greater sage-grouse.

Because it is more effective to conserve species before they become endangered, National Wildlife Federation also works to promote the use of state wildlife action plans, which serve as blueprints for state-based conservation action. Each plan identifies “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” to help set conservation priorities, and National Wildlife Federation has been helping develop lists of regional priority species to encourage cross-state collaboration and regional conservation action.

Grassroots Programs

The National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife™ program helps people restore habitat and wildlife populations to our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Since 1973, the program has been educating and empowering people to turn their own small piece of the Earth—their yards and gardens—into thriving habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. In doing so, the Garden for Wildlife program helps wildlife and gives people a daily connection to the natural world.

Protecting Endangered Species

Scientists estimate that up to one-third of U.S. species are at increased risk of extinction, and more than 1,600 U.S. plants and animals already have been federally listed as threatened or endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Wildlife Federation has long been focused on protecting the most vulnerable of our wild species. We are committed to defending, strengthening, funding, and ensuring effective implementation of the Endangered Species Act and other wildlife laws to maximum benefit of fish and wildlife populations. We are also committed to protecting our threatened and endangered species from emerging threats, including the growing impacts of climate change.

Advocating for Conservation Policy

With your grassroots support, the National Wildlife Federation can continue its success in securing conservation funding from federal budget appropriations, clean energy and climate legislation, energy leases, and other sources. The National Wildlife Federation is working to defend the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act and to pass the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would fund state-led efforts to proactively help at-risk wildlife identified by State Wildlife Action Plans. In the coming years, the National Wildlife Federation will reinvigorate the approach, focus, and culture of state wildlife agencies to include conservation of all species, incorporate climate considerations, and ensure state-of-the-art science-based management.

What We're Doing

Get Involved

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates