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Working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

The endangered species program is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).If you enjoy working outdoors and interacting with wildlife you can explore job opportunities with the USFWS that protects and enforces federal wildlife laws. They employ approximately 9,000 people at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. and at regional and field offices located across the country.

The USFWS is under the Department of the Interior and is responsible for protecting endangered species , enforcing federal wildlife laws, managing migratory birds, and restoring nationally significant fisheries. They also conserve and restore wildlife habitat, such as wetlands and assist foreign governments with their international conservation efforts. They also are responsible for distributing funds to state fish and wildlife agencies through the Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration program.

The Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge
The Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge

History of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

The agency mission is stated as follows, “Working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

The United States Commission for Fish and Fisheries was founded in 1871 to study and recommend solutions to the nations declining fish population. They reorganized In 1903 under the United States Bureau of Fisheries. The USFWS was created in 1940 when the Bureaus of Fisheries and Biological Survey were combined under the Department of the Interior. The USFWS protects vital natural habitat throughout the country.

Objectives, Functions and Resources of the USFWS


  1. 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.
  2. Guide the conservation, development, and management of the Nation’s fish and wildlife resources.
  3. Administer a national program to provide the public opportunities to understand, appreciate, and wisely use fish and wildlife resources.


  • Enforce federal wildlife laws
  • Protect endangered species
  • Manage migratory birds
  • Restore nationally significant fisheries
  • Conserve and restore wildlife habitat such
  • Assist foreign governments with conservation efforts

Hundreds of millions of dollars are distributed to State fish and wildlife agencies through their Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration program.


The agency manages the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 551 National Wildlife Refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. Under the Fisheries program, they 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 not on federal lands. The USFWS fosters aquatic conservation and assists voluntary habitat conservation and restoration through various partnerships such as the Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council and others.

Two Important Programs in the USFWS

National Wildlife Refuge Program

More than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 1,000 species of fish are provided habitat by the National wildlife refuges. Over 380 threatened or endangered plants or animals are protected on wildlife refuges and each year, millions of migrating birds use refuges as they fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes.

Today, there are more than 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts, including one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Find one close to you.

Refuges welcome more than 45 million visitors each year, who participate in a wide variety of recreational activities including hunting, fishing, birding, photography, environmental education and other activities.

Ecological Services Program

This program administers the Endangered Species Act by working with experts in the scientific community to identify species on the verge of extinction and to devise ways to bring them back. They collaborate with federal and state agencies, and many others to help protect important habitat, increase species’ populations, and reduce the threats to their survival so that they can be removed from federal protection.

The program also maps, monitors, and inventories the nation’s wetlands. In addition, it provides guidance and expertise to protect wildlife for projects such as wind farms and large-scale transportation developments meeting our society’s growing energy and transportation needs.

There are offices in all 50 states that help protect species and habitats and conserve the natural resources on which we all depend. They ensure that wetlands persist to protect us from storms and to filter our water. This program continues to conserve for future generations a continued source of sustaininable land.

The USFWS has many fascinating job occupations and including that of Mark Madison their resident Historian (GS-170) which will be discussed in our next article.


  • Anita Noguera, Manager, BPHC Marketing Communications, Falls Church, VA

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About The Author

A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/. Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.