The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the oldest federal conservation agency, tracing its lineage back to 1871, and the only agency in the federal government whose primary responsibility is management of fish and wildlife for the American public. The Service helps ensure a healthy environment for people by providing opportunities for Americans to enjoy the outdoors and our shared natural heritage.
Functions. Here are a few of the ways we try to meet our mission:
We manage the National Wildlife Refuge System with more than 560 National Wildlife Refuges as well as small wetlands and other special management areas encompassing more than 150 million acres. Under the Fisheries program we also operate over 70 National Fish Hatcheries and 65 fishery resource offices. The Ecological Services program has 86 field stations across all 50 states.
The vast majority of fish and wildlife habitat is on non-federal lands. Voluntary habitat protection and restoration programs like the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the Coastal Program and other partnership programs are the primary ways we deliver habitat conservation on public and private lands.
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 Ornithology and Mammalogy in the Department of Agriculture
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.