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.
Grizzly bears are the North American subspecies of brown bears which roam throughout Canada and northwestern America. Grizzlies are omnivores, feeding on insects and deer alike. Come winter they descend into a deep sleep called torpor where they do not eat or drink until they emerge in the spring.
Thought to be extinct in the wild until 1981, the critically endangered black-footed ferret is North America's only native ferret species and a member of the weasel family. Loss of native grasslands, disease, and declines in prey abundance contributed heavily to their decline, but captive breeding and reintroduction programs have helped this species reestablish small portions of their historic range.
West Indian manatee
West Indian manatee have earned their nickname of “sea cows,” consuming about 32 pounds of aquatic plants each day and weighing more than 3,000 pounds. Found throughout the Caribbean, manatees are common in Florida where the populations have increased significantly in recent years, resulting in the species being downlisted from endangered to threatened in 2017.
Cape May warbler
Cape May warblers are a spruce-fir boreal forest-nesting neotropical migrant that spends the breeding seasion in northern North America and non-breeding period in the Caribbean. They are often seen as a flash of brilliant yellow and rust as they forage actively in the tops of trees where they are dependent on spruce budworm caterpillars.
One of North America's most iconic species, the monarch butterfly is best known for it's spectacular 3,000-mile annual migration from their northern breeding grounds to wintering grounds in central Mexico. A distinct, western monarch population migrates between the western states and their winter range in coastal California; both the eastern and western populations have been negatively affected by habitat loss and reduction in milkweed plants that serve as the sole food source for monarch caterpillars.
The golden eagle is a Holarctic species that inhabits open country, in either deserts, tundra, high altitudes or rangelands. Although it is widely distributed in the continental United States, its numbers are generally much greater in western states.
Chinook salmon are anadromous—they hatch in freshwater, migrate to the sea, then return to freshwater to breed. Sometimes called “King Salmon,” they are the largest of the Pacific Salmon. They range from the Monterey Bay area of California to the Chukchi Sea of Alaska.
Villosa mussels (Coosa creekshell)
The Coosa creekshell is a species of freshwater mussel that are endemic to the Coosa River Drainage in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Increased sedimentation and reduced aquatic connectivity for host fishes like sunfish and sculpins have caused population declines throughout their range.
There are seven different species of sea turtles, six of which are found in U.S. waters and are listed as threatened or endangered in a least a portion of their circumglobal range. These species include leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, olive ridley, green and hawksbill. For more than 100 million years, sea turtles have migrated long-distances over temperate and tropical oceans, spending most of their time at sea but returning to natal beaches to lay eggs.
The threatened Canada Lynx is a medium-sized carnivore that inhabits boreal forests where their massive paws make them adapted to traveling through deep snow. These solitary hunters rely on contiguous, structurally diverse forest habitat that support abundant populations of their favorite prey, the snowshoe hare.
Karner blue butterfly
Karner blue butterflies measure only 1 inch wide, and are native to the Oakland Savannahs, stretching from New York to Minnesota. The species requires specialized habitats where wild blue lupine is abundant, the exclusive food plant for Karner caterpillars. Populations were in steep decline following habitat loss and modifications, which prompted their listing as an endangered species in 1992.
Alewife and blueback herring—collectively known as river herring—are diadromous fishes that spend most of their lives at sea but return to river and streams to spawn. Once abundant throughout the Atlantic seaboard, river herring populations have declined due to overfishing and habitat loss associated with the construction of dams. Recent conservation efforts have seen millions of river herring return to streams throughout New England, a promising sign not just for river herring, but also myriad other species that rely on them as an important food source.