The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau within the Department of the Interior. Our mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
A 1940 reorganization plan (54 Stat. 1232) in the Department of the Interior consolidated the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey into one agency to be known as the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife was created as a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Department of the Interior on November 6, 1956, by the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (70 Stat. 1119). That act was amended on July 1, 1974, by Public Law 93-271 (88 Stat. 92) to, among other purposes, abolish the position of Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife and designate the Bureau as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Assist in the development and application of an environmental stewardship ethic for our society, based on ecological principles, scientific knowledge of fish and wildlife, and a sense of moral responsibility.
- Guide the conservation, development, and management of the Nation's fish and wildlife resources.
- Administer a national program to provide the public opportunities to understand, appreciate, and wisely use fish and wildlife resources.
Functions. Here are a few of the ways we try to meet our mission:
- Enforce federal wildlife laws,
- Protect endangered species,
- Manage migratory birds,
- Restore nationally significant fisheries,
- Conserve and restore wildlife habitat such as wetlands,
- Help foreign governments with their international conservation efforts, and
- Distribute hundreds of millions of dollars, through our Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration program, in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.
We manage the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System of more than 551 National Wildlife Refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. Under the Fisheries program we also operate 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 65 fishery resource offices and 86 ecological services field stations.
The vast majority of fish and wildlife habitat is on non-Federal lands. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Partners in Flight, Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, and other partnership activities are the main ways we foster aquatic conservation and assist voluntary habitat conservation and restoration.
The Service employs approximately 9,000 people at facilities across the U.S. The Service is a decentralized organization with a headquarters office in Washington, D.C., with regional and field offices across the country. Our organizational chart shows structure and also provides information on senior management.
Our programs are among the oldest in the world dedicated to natural resource conservation. You can trace our history back to 1871 and the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries in the Department of Commerce and the Division of Economic Orinthology and Mammology in the Department of Agriculture.