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The protection of wildlife considers all undomesticated life forms, including wild animals, birds, insects, plants, fungi, and microscopic organisms.

These are possibly in danger due to increased human hunting, changes in the climate, and activities altering their habitats.

Many associations in North America are concerned about the effect we are having on our surroundings. Many people are worried about endangered species, but not everyone has the chance to get into the field to help.

There are many organizations in North America whose aim is to help protect wildlife. 

In this article, I give an introduction to some of the wildlife protection organizations in North America. I look at how they came about and what they do to ensure the future of wildlife in North America.

Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of wildlife logo

Defenders of wildlife are a major national conservation organization. They aim to preserve nature, protect wildlife habitats, and safeguard biodiversity. 

Defenders of Wildlife were founded in 1947 and initially called Defenders of Fur-Bearers. Their primary mission is to preserve wild animals. 

However, their mission has broadened to include safeguarding wildlife habitats and biodiversity and protecting wild animals. 

The organization has headquarters in Washington, DC. Defenders of Wildlife also have field offices in Alaska, California, the Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, and Great Plains. 

Defender of Wildlife is a non-profit conservation organization. They aim to protect all native animals and plants in their natural communities throughout North America. 

The organization has various areas of work. These include protecting imperiled species and using their knowledge in the courts and Congress for the endangered species Act. They advocate for the protection and defense of threatened and endangered species in North America.  

Defenders of Wildlife protect essential wildlife habitats and focus on protecting public lands designated to protect wildlife conservation.

Defenders of Wildlife focus on coexistence efforts to mitigate conflict between people, livestock, and predators where their paths intersect and combat climate change by working with wildlife and natural resource managers to address the impacts.  

Defenders of Wildlife develop adaptive strategies to incorporate into conservation plans and stop the wildlife trade for international species through trafficking. 

Defenders of Wildlife has a positive impact on the animals of North America. 

They support the increase in the population of Mexican Gray Wolves by working directly with tribal members and ranchers. They help scientists and policymakers in Congress to support the release of adults and cross-fostering pups.

Photo of cougar

Defenders of Wildlife are also building support in Congress to enact the SAVE Right Whales Act, which will help save the North Atlantic right whale from extinction. Entanglement in fishing ropes, nets, and strikes from ships cause massive damage to the whales.  

 Defenders of Wildlife have also been influential in helping to reintroduce black-footed ferrets in Montana. The black-footed ferret was thought extinct until 1981 and is still endangered.

You can visit their homepage here if you would like more information on Defenders of Wildlife.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is one of the world’s most significant animal welfare and conservation charities. 

The organization works to rescue individual animals, safeguard populations, preserve habitat, and advocate for more excellent protection. 

IFAW has 15 offices in 15 countries, with projects in more than 40 countries. These projects include the Disney Nature and Disney Conservation Fund, the Petfinder Foundation, and the Arctic fox. 

IFAW works to reduce the demand for wildlife products, tackle wildlife cybercrime, and stop live animal exploitation and traffic worldwide.  

They also seek to protect elephants by protecting elephant habitats, managing human-elephant conflict, preventing poaching, ending the illegal ivory trade, and rescuing orphan and injured elephants.  


IFAW also carries out legislative and education campaigns across the globe.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare is instrumental in protecting the 400 critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. IFAW is pushing the U.S. and Canadian governments to protect the rights of whales and preserve their habitat.

They have secured and maintained ship speed limits in areas where North Atlantic right whales were being hit by ships. They have also worked to increase awareness among mariners of the whales in shipping lanes.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare was founded to stop the commercial hunt for seals’ fur on the east coast of Canada. IFAW partnered with politicians to implement a European ban on all seal products.

Due to this ban, the number of Canadian sealers dropped by 90 percent. It is estimated that because of the prohibition that IFAW helped bring in, more than one million newborn seals were saved from slaughter over the next ten years.

With North America being a hotbed for hurricanes, IFAW helped found the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) after hurricane Katrina. NARSC has rescued thousands of pets, delivering food and litter to the pets in shelters.

You can visit their homepage here if you would like more information on the work that IFAW does.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

IUCN logo

The IUCN is a science-based network of more than eight thousand volunteer experts from almost every country globally. 

The volunteers all work together to achieve the vision of “a just world that values and conserves nature through positive action to reduce the loss of diversity of life on earth.“

IUCN was established on 5 October 1948, in Fontainebleau, France, when representatives of governments and conservation organizations spurred by UNESCO signed a formal act consulting the International Union for protecting nature. 

The initiative to establish IUCN came from UNESCO and the first Director-General, the British biologist Julian Huxley. 

Many IUCN members are deployed in more than 140 Specialist Groups, Red List Authorities, Task Forces, and Conservation committees. Some groups are mandated to address conservation issues related to particular groups of plants, fungi, or animals.

Other groups pay attention to tropical issues, such as reintroducing species into former habitats or wildlife health. 

Currently, IUCN is working on 2017-2020 programs addressing the following themes: Climate change, economics, ecosystem, environmental law, forest conservation, global policies, marine and polar species, protected areas, science and knowledge, social policy, water, and world heritage. 

The program identifies three priority areas: Valuing and conserving nature, promoting and supporting effective and equitable governance of natural resources, and deploying nature-based solutions to address specific challenges. These challenges include climate change, food security, and economic and social development. 

IUCN helps governments, including the United States and Canada, prepare national biodiversity policies and provide international advice to environmental conventions.

These include the Convention on Biological Diversity Cities and Framework Convention on climate change. They also provide advice to UNESCO on natural world heritage.

IUCN publishes the Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the global conservation status of plant and animal species. 

The Red List evaluated the risk of extinction of thousands of species worldwide. National and international government agencies, wildlife departments, zoos and aquariums, and conservation-related non-governmental organizations use the Red List.

 The Red List is a crucial tool and indication of the health of biodiversity. Several species have been saved due to the Red List’s inclusion, including the black-footed ferret and the humpback whale.

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

National Wildlife Federation Logo

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is the United States’ most extensive private, non-profit conservation education and advocacy organization. 

They have over six million members and supporters and fifty-one state and territorial affiliated organizations. 

The National Wildlife Federation was established at a meeting in February 1936. They were founded with the name ‘General Wildlife Federation’ by Pulitzer Prize-winner political cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling and other leaders.  

Ding Darling demanded action from Congress, stating, “Wildlife doesn’t vote, and neither do conservationists.” The president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, a proud hunter, listened to Darling. In 1936, the National Wildlife Federation was renamed, uniting sportspeople, outdoorsmen, and wildlife enthusiasts to the conservation goal.

Beaver couple

Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed ding Darling as the head of the U.S. Biological Survey to change their name to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The National Wildlife Federation’s headquarters is located in Reston, Virginia, overlooking a fantastic wildlife sanctuary. They have won various awards and recognition, including one from the America Institute of Architects. This award is for its Reston Headquarters, one of the top ten green projects. 

The organization works to protect the iconic landscapes and waterways that provide vital habitats for many wildlife species across the nation and internationally.

The National Wildlife Federation restores healthy water systems, from streams, lakes, and rivers to coastal wetlands and fisheries. They also make it one of their objectives for people to get outside and enjoy outdoor recreation to cultivate the next generation to be environmentally aware.

The National Wildlife Federation works to restore bison to tribal and public lands in the West. They work with tribal members and ranchers to make the restorations successful, protecting their habitats.  

They are also running the Save L.A. Cougars campaign to save the mountain lions from extinction from crossing the freeways. With over sixty mountain lions in the area, seventeen have already been killed by vehicles. The National Wildlife Federation advocates for a wildlife crossing over the 101 freeway for animals to use and cross the ten lanes of traffic.

You can find their homepage here if you would like more information on the National Wildlife Federation.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is an agency of the U.S. federal government within the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

The USFWS originated in 1871 as the United States Commission on Fish and Fisheries. They were commonly known as the United States Fish Commission. 

The United States Congress created them to study and recommend solutions to a fish food stock decline. 

In 1885-1886, the division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy was established within the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1896, this was changed to the Division of Biology Survey. 

The Division of Biology Survey’s earlier work addressed birds’ effect in controlling agricultural pests. They also mapped the distribution of plants and animals in the United States. 

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service was founded in 1940 after the Bureaus of Fisheries and Bureau of Biology Survey were combined after being moved to the Department of the Interior. Their headquarters are currently in Virginia.  

The USFWS is mandated to:

  • Enforcing federal wildlife laws
  • Protecting endangered species
  • Managing migratory birds
  • Restoring nationally significant fisheries
  • Conserving and restoring wildlife habitats, such as wetlands
  • Helping foreign governments with their international efforts
  • Distributing money to state fish and wildlife agencies through the wildlife sports fish and restoration program. 

In North America, the USFWS promotes voluntary habitat conservation and restoration. The organization has employed various people to protect endangered species and advocate for wildlife protection across North America.

The USFWS maintains a list of worldwide endangered species. This includes a list of threatened and endangered animals and species proposed for future listing.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was designed to protect species of flora and fauna from extinction. The ESA 1973 has been successful, with the gray wolf and the Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel being recently delisted. However, a total of 1,467 foreign and domestic species are still on the threatened and endangered lists.

You can visit the official homepage of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

WWF logo

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a global fund-raising organization to finance international conservation. The WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization.  

The WWF was founded on 11 September 1962 in Morges, Switzerland. They have expanded their operations to over one hundred countries and have over five million global supporters. 

The organization strives to facilitate the conservation of nature as well as wildlife. They have been advocating for action against climate change and wildlife crimes. 

The WWF also protects some of the world’s most significant wild areas, such as the Amazon rainforest. 

The WWF aims to support any animal that needs protection. Their efforts have stretched far and wide from the freezing Arctic to the sunny skies of Mexico.

The WWF has seen some great success around the world. Their logo is the giant panda, and in 2016, they released a statement saying that the giant panda is no longer listed as endangered.

The giant panda is now considered vulnerable, down from its listing as endangered. There has been an increase in giant pandas of 17 percent since 2003, with approximately 1,860 pandas in the wild.

Closer to home in North America, the WWF has dramatically impacted the Upper Gulf of California. There are fewer than 30 vaquitas in the wild, and gillnets used for fishing were trapping them.  

The WWF used its vast reach to set up an emergency campaign. Nearly 250,000 people emailed the Mexican president, asking him to take action.  

The Mexican government signed an agreement setting out emergency actions to protect the remaining porpoises. 

It is unknown if these measures will protect the remaining vaquita as their numbers are so low, but without the WWF, they would not have even stood a chance.

You can visit their homepage for more information on the World Wildlife Fund.