Do you care about fish? How about wildlife? Put them together and you get an agency called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.” They are the only agency of the U.S. Government with that primary mission.
The Service works to protect the environment so Americans can enjoy fish, wildlife and our beautiful outdoors. They mainly focus on helping migratory birds, endangered species, certain marine mammals and fish.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started in 1871. At that time, Congress created the U.S. Fish Commission to study why the fish population was declining and how to reverse that.
However, along with the study of fish, the commission expanded to study birds and mammals as they became a concern as well. They took over the work of managing the first wildlife refuges, controlling predators, enforcing wildlife laws, and conserving dwindling populations of migratory birds.
In 1939, the Bureaus of Fisheries and Biological Survey were transferred to the Department of the Interior, and in 1940 they were combined and named the Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Further reorganization came in 1956 when the Fish and Wildlife Act created the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and established two bureaus, Sport Fish and Wildlife and Commercial Fisheries. In 1970, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries was transferred to the Department of Commerce and renamed the National Marine Fisheries Service.”
Back in the 1940s, the Service did some of the first research studies looking at the effects of the pesticide DDT in wildlife. The biologists uncovered many breakthroughs about animal diseases, developed captive breeding techniques, and conducted substantial research. Some of the animals that have been helped by the Service include the rare whooping crane, California condors and black-footed ferrets.
Some famous former employees include Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring” and Jay N. “Ding” Darling, designer of the first Federal Duck Stamp.
Over 7,500 people are employed by the Service today at branches all over the country. Their headquarters is located in Washington, D.C.