Conservation programs funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation benefit hundreds of species and the habitats they depend on across the United States. NFWF has developed conservation strategies with measurable outcomes that track progress for many of these species. These species are good indicators of healthy habitats.
These strategies and metrics can be found in NFWF’s business plans developed by scientists and other experts, and approved by the Foundation's Board of Directors. NFWF programs fund conservation grants that implement the strategies and actions identified in the business plan.
Click on the species to learn a little about it, and which programs fund grants to conserve the species and its habitat.
The great egret is a common breeding species in many wetlands throughout the United States. However, this was not always the case. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the bird was nearly eliminated from the country because of demand for its feathers as part of a hat trade. Following a ban on hunting the great egret in 1912, and the species has recovered to its former numbers.
Although mostly out of sight, the rivers of the United States are home to more than 300 freshwater mussel species – one of the highest counts in the world. They are beautiful and varied in terms of form, and important as indicators of stream health. Freshwater mussels not only depend on healthy waters, they contribute to that end by filtering vast amounts of water. Unfortunately, these species are at greater risk of extinction than any other group of its size in the nation.
Hawaiian forest birds
Due to its geographic isolation, Hawaii has unique fauna and flora that are particularly vulnerable to changes in their environment. In fact, Hawaii is considered the species extinction capital of the United States. This especially true for endemic birds; 98 of 142 known endemic bird species having gone extinct since human arrival to Hawaii. Currently, 33 of Hawaii's remaining 44 endemic birds are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Eleven of those have not been seen for decades and are likely extinct.
Eastern brook trout
The eastern brook trout is the only trout native to the eastern United States and inhabits coldwater rivers and lakes. Sensitive to even small declines in water quality and increases in sedimentation, brook trout can serve as excellent indicators of the health of a stream or river ecosystem.
The whooping crane is the tallest and one of the most threatened birds in North America. The only wild population winters along the Texas coast and migrates up to 2,500 miles to breed in or near Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada
Seabirds are a diverse group of species that disperse over vast ocean distances to seek food, often travelling far from breeding colonies on oceanic islands. They are able to live for decades and take three to eight years before starting to breed, after which they produce only 1 to 2 eggs every other year or so. Seabirds are impacted by their interaction with humans both on islands and in the ocean, which has driven many species to the brink of extinction.
Northwest Atlantic loggerhead
Migrating far distances throughout the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean to Canada to the Mediterranean Sea, 90 percent of nesting activity for northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles occur in Florida and the southeastern United States. The northwest Atlantic population has grown over the years showing positive signs of recovery, but loggerhead sea turtles continue to face threats from fishing and coastal development.
The Guadalupe bass is the state fish of Texas - the only place on earth where the species is found. The main threats to the species are reduced stream flow and hybridization with non-native smallmouth bass.
The American badger is a member of the Mustelidae, or weasel family, and is native to grasslands of North America. This fierce carnivore is an excellent excavator and digs burrows in pursuit of prey, raising young and sleeping.
Eastern hardwood forest birds
Eastern deciduous forests provide important habitat for forest birds, which can reside in them year-round, or rely on them as breeding grounds or stop-over sited during migration. Deciduous forests have been subject to fragmentation from extractive activities and development for many years, putting the wide variety of bird species they support at risk.
The eastern hellbender is a large, fully-aquatic salamander that breathes entirely through their skin making clean, oxygen-rich water critical in sustaining populations. Increased nutrient runoff and sediment desposition has decreased habitat quality for hellbenders leading to widespread population declines.
Black skimmers are a beach-nesting, tern-like member of the gull family found across the Americas. The North American population migrates to the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean during the non-breeding season. Skimmers are aptly named for their unique foraging strategy of skimming the water’s surface with their lower beak, or mandible, and snapping shut when it contacts a fish.