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United States Fish and Wildlife Service

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


DIRECTOR *Martha Williams


Program Management and PolicyBryan Arroyo
Stephen D. Guertin

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 statement of organization may be found in subchapter A, part 2, of 50 CFR.

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 websites; 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

Archived Records

The "Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States" indicates that USFWS records have been assigned to record group 022.


"Open Spaces—A Talk on the Wild Side" is the name of the official USFWS blog.

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 website. Additional information is available from USFWS regional offices and the Human Capital Office in Falls Church, VA. Phone, 703-358-1743.

In 2019, the USFWS ranked 157th among 420 agency subcomponents in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places To Work Agency Rankings.

Climate Change

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

Crimes Against Wildlife

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

The USFWS forensic laboratory is unique in its dedication to crimes against wildlife. Forensic experts examine, identify, and compare physical evidence to connect crime scenes, suspects, and victims with it.

Endangered Species

The USFWS website 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 website has a section that is dedicated to the development of domestic energy sources and its effect on wildlife.

Federal Register

Significant documents, from 1995 (volume 60) to the present, and recent documents that the USFWS has published in the Federal Register are available online.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The USFWS makes records available, by law, 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 maintains an electronic FOIA library and FOIA reading room on its website.


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 USFWS website 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" website. 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 geographic regions. Contact information for each of these regional offices is available on the USFWS website.

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

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

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 ecological services program includes USFWS participation in projects to develop water resources for meeting the needs of local communities and for conserving fish and wildlife. The USFWS works alongside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation when participating in these development projects.

The Sources of Information were updated 5–2020.