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United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240


DIRECTOR Daniel M. Ashe

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the principal Federal agency dedicated to fish and wildlife conservation. The Service's history spans 145 years, dating from the establishment of its predecessor agency, the Bureau of Fisheries, in 1871. First created as an independent agency, the Bureau of Fisheries was later placed in the Department of Commerce. A second predecessor agency, the Bureau of Biological Survey, was established in 1885 in the Department of Agriculture. In 1939, the two Bureaus and their functions were transferred to the Department of the Interior. In 1940, they were consolidated into one agency and redesignated the Fish and Wildlife Service by Reorganization Plan No. 3 (5 U.S.C. app.).

The USFWS works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which comprises 563 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. It operates 72 national fish hatcheries, a historic national fish hatchery, 65 fishery resource offices, and 81 ecological service field stations. The USFWS enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitats, and assists foreign governments with conservation. It also collects excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment and distributes the revenues to State fish and wildlife agencies.

The Service improves and maintains fish and wildlife resources by proper management of wildlife and habitat. It also helps meet public demand for wildlife dependent recreational activities by maintaining public lands and restoring native fish and wildlife populations.

Wildlife and fishery resource programs support the management of wildlife refuges on public lands. Wildlife-related activities include population control, migration and harvest surveys, and law and gaming enforcement for migratory and nonmigratory birds and mammals. Fishery-related activities include hatchery production monitoring, stocking, and fishery management. Fishery resource programs also provide technical assistance for coastal anadromous, Great Lakes, and other inland fisheries.

The USFWS identifies, protects, and restores endangered fish, wildlife, and plant species. It maintains Federal lists of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants that are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 17.11 et seq.), conducts status surveys, prepares recovery plans, and coordinates national and international wildlife refuge operations.

The Service protects and improves land and water environments to benefit living natural resources and to enhance the quality of human life. It administers grant programs that help imperiled species, assists private landowners restore habitat, asses environmental impact and reviews potential environmental threats, manages Coastal Barrier Resource System mapping, monitors potential wildlife contaminants, and studies fish and wildlife population trends.

Public use and information activities include preparing informational brochures and maintaining public Web sites; coordinating environmental studies on USFWS lands; operating visitor centers, self-guided nature trails, observation towers, and display ponds; and promoting birdwatching, fishing, hunting, wildlife photography, and other forms of wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports the conservation and enhancement of the Nation's fish and wildlife resources. Excise taxes on sporting arms and fishing equipment fund these efforts.

Sources of Information


The USFWS Web site features "Open Spaces—A Talk on the Wild Side."

Business Opportunities

An online guide explains how to find business opportunities and to compete for them. Information is also available from regional offices and from the Division of Contracting and General Services in Falls Church, VA. Phone, 703-358-2500. | Email:

Career Opportunities

Information on careers in conservation is available on the USFWS Web site. Additional information is available from USFWS regional offices and the Human Capital Office in Falls Church, VA. Phone, 703-358-1743.

Climate Change

The USFWS Web site provides a collection of links and informational sources for learning about climate science and conservation in a changing climate.


The USFWS Web site features a section dedicated to contaminants—for example, metals and pesticides—and their effects on wildlife.

Endangered Species

The USFWS Web site features a search tool for learning about and identifying endangered species. The text boxes can search for an endangered species based on the State, U.S. Territory, or county where it lives, or according to its common or scientific name.

An online subscription form is available to receive breaking news affecting endangered species, endangered species news stories, and the "Endangered Species Bulletin" via email.

Energy Development

The USFWS Web site features a section dedicated to the development of domestic energy sources and its effect on wildlife.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The USFWS makes records available to the public to the greatest extent possible. The records that are being sought already may be posted online. If the information cannot be found online or if the location of the desired records is uncertain, consider contacting the USFWS FOIA public liaison before submitting a FOIA request. | Email:

The USFWS does not have a centralized records system. Most data and records are kept in field offices. Instructions on where to send a FOIA request for USFWS records are available online.


Ecological Services maintains an online glossary of terms found in environmental legislation.

The Midwest Region maintains an online glossary of terms associated with endangered species.

The Midwest Region also maintains a glossary of terms associated with freshwater mussels of the Upper Mississippi River System.

The USFWS Web site features a short glossary of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) terms in Portable Document Format (PDF).

National Wildlife Refuges

For information on the National Wildlife Refuge System, including information on specific wildlife refuges and wetland management districts, visit the "National Wildlife Refuge System" Web site. Phone, 800-344-9453.

News Media Inquiries

Journalists, reporters, and other media professionals seeking information or to arrange an interview should contact a regional public affairs officer or the Division of Public Affairs in Falls Church, VA. Phone, 703-358-2220.


The USFWS posts news releases online.


Visit the "Do I Need a Permit" Web page to learn the rules for importing, exporting, and reexporting protected species. Information on Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits and certificates is also available from the Division of Management Authority. Phone, 800-358-2104 or 703-358-2093. | Email:


The USFWS national publications unit is headquartered at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. It is the primary distribution center for printed material published by the USFWS. The publications unit handles requests from Federal and State agencies, businesses, educators, and the general public. USFWS publications include booklets, brochures, posters, and reports. Phone, 800-344-9543.

Some publications may need to be ordered from the U.S. Government Bookstore, which the Government Publishing Office operates. Phone, 866-512-1800 (customer contact center). Phone, 202-512-0132 (store phone). | Email:

Regional Offices

USFWS has regional offices that represent each of its eight geographic regions: Pacific, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, Mountain-Prairie, Alaska, and Pacific Southwest. Contact information for each of these regional offices is available on the USFWS Web site.

The Office of Law Enforcement, in addition to its national office in Falls Church, VA, maintains a regional office in each of the eight regions. Contact information for these offices is available on the USFWS Web site.

A State list of other USFWS offices and their contact information is also available online.

Report a Violation

To report a violation of wildlife laws or to learn about enforcement of them, visit the "Office of Law Enforcement" Web site, contact the nearest regional law enforcement office, or call the Office of Law Enforcement in Falls Church, VA. Phone, 703-358-1949. | Email:

Social Media

The USFWS uses social media to communicate and connect with Internet users worldwide. The agency tweets from its Twitter accounts; maintains an Instagram feed and Pinterest board; posts videos on its YouTube channel and photographs on Flickr; and has Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages.

Water Resource Development

The USFWS Web site features a section dedicated to the development of water resources and its effect on wildlife.

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