The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long tradition of scientific excellence and always uses the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat for the benefit of the American public.
Created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, today's National Wildlife Refuge System protects habitats and wildlife across the country, from the Alaskan tundra to subtropical wetlands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System's 560-plus refuges cover more than 150 million acres and protect nearly 1,400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
While national wildlife refuges were created to protect wildlife, they are for people too. Refuges are ideal places for people of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world. We invite you to learn more about and visit the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Mountain-Prairie Region's Office of Ecological Services (ES) works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, ES personnel work with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to avoid, minimize, and mitigate threats to our Nation's natural resources.
Providing leadership in the conservation of migratory bird habitat through partnerships, grants, and outreach for present and future generations. The Migratory Bird Program is responsible for maintaining healthy migratory bird populations for the benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region helps conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic resources and provides economically valuable recreational fishing to anglers across the country. The program comprises 12 National Fish Hatcheries.
Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.
External Affairs staff in the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides support to the regional office and field stations to communicate and facilitate information about the Service's programs to the public, media, Congress, Tribes, partners, and other stakeholders in the 8-state region.
The plains bison (Bison bison bison) is a subspecies of the American bison that was historically found from central Canada to northern Mexico and nearly from coast to coast. It was most abundant on the Great Plains. They were eliminated west of the Rocky Mountains and east of the Mississippi River by the early 1800s. By 1889, only a few wild plains bison remained in the Texas Panhandle, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and the western Dakotas, as well as a small number in captive herds. Diligent efforts by a few individuals prevented extinction.
Conservation efforts by private landowners, state and federal agencies, and others helped to rebuild herds. Today, there are over 400,000 plains bison, with approximately 20,500 managed in conservation herds in parks, preserves, other public lands, and on private lands throughout and external to their historical range. Population trends have been stable to increasing in recent years. Currently, there are approximately 20,500 in conservation herds and an additional 420,000 in commercial herds.
The Service will continue our cooperative efforts to conserve the existing bison herds in the United States. We will continue to cooperatively implement the Joint Bison Management Plan and the Department of Interior’s Bison Conservation Initiative.
In addition to federal cooperative efforts to conserve existing herds and establish new herds, several state governments and private entities participate in restoration of the plains bison. State managed conservation herds exist within the species’ historical range in Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Additional state herds external to its historical range exist in Alaska. The Nature Conservancy manages eight herds for conservation purposes, with initiatives for establishing two new herds. Turner Enterprises manages several herds with dual purposes of conservation and commercial production. The American Prairie Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund have also developed conservation herds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that a petition to list the wild plains bison under the Endangered Species Act does not contain substantial scientific data to indicate that the petitioned action might be warranted. Despite this determination that the bison will not receive further consideration for listing under the ESA at this time, the Service will continue to work with our partners to conserve and protect wild plains bison throughout its remaining range.