U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning

Mission of the

National Wildlife Refuge System

The mission of the
National Wildlife Refuge System
is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats
within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.


Goals of the Refuge System

  • Conserve a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats, including species that are endangered or threatened with becoming endangered.
  • Develop and maintain a network of habitats for migratory birds, anadromous and interjurisdictional fish, and marine mammal populations that is strategically distributed and carefully managed to meet important life history needs of these species across their ranges.
  • Conserve those ecosystems, plant communities, wetlands of national or international significance, and landscapes and seascapes that are unique, rare, declining, or underrepresented in existing protection efforts.
  • Provide and enhance opportunities to participate in compatible wildlife-dependent recreation—hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.
  • Foster understanding and instill appreciation of the diversity and interconnectedness of fish, wildlife, and plants, and their habitats.
Drawing of a flying goose, colored blue, which represents the National Wildlife Refuge System.

This blue goose, designed by J.N. “Ding” Darling, has become the symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System.