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.
Mule deer are a social, migratory ungulate who are named for their large ears that resemble a mule's ears. An iconic species of the western United States, habitat loss and increased fragmentation of the landscape have caused localized declines in mule deer populations and reduced the function of critical migration paths.
Found in shallow, tropical waters around the world, coral reefs are among the most iconic and diverse ecosystems on earth. Despite covering less than 1 percent of the ocean, 25 percent of marine species rely on coral reefs, which are made up of many different species of coral. While corals are threatened by pollution, overfishing, disease and increasing ocean temperature resulting in widespread mortality, local conservation efforts coupled with advancements in coral restoration show promise for conserving this important ecosystem.
Steelhead trout are an anadromous species that live along the west coast of the United States. While all Steelhead trout return to freshwater to spawn, some stay in freshwater their whole lives and are referred to as rainbow trout. Steelhead trout are vulnerable to many stressors and threats including blocked access to spawning grounds and habitat degradation caused by dams and culverts.
Eastern oysters have played a particularly prominent role in the culture, history, and economy of the Chesapeake Bay and other areas throughout the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Reefs serve as important habitat for a variety of aquatic species. However, overharvesting, disease and declines in estuarine and bottom habitats have ravaged native oyster populations. Eastern oysters now represent less than 2 percent of their peak historical populations.
The red snapper is a long-lived reef fish typically found over deep reefs banks and rocky bottoms within the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic United States. Red snapper are one of the most popular sport fishes in the Gulf of Mexico and support important recreational and commercial fisheries.
The cerulean warbler is a small, migrant songbird named for the male's sky-blue plumage. It is dependent on contiguous tracts of mature, deciduous forest habitat throughout its breeding range in the eastern United States, and is particularly sensitive to the negative effects of forest fragmentation which has contributed to widespread population declines.
The burrowing owl is small with long legs, and found in open country throughout the Americas. Within the United States it is largely a western bird, with an isolated population in Florida. While the species is associated with burrowing animals, the Florida population digs its own burrows.
Polar bears are found throughout the Arctic, with 19 populations spread across Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. Due to their reliance on sea ice, and thus vulnerability to the effects of climate change, these large marine mammals are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Today, there are fewer than 4,000 bears within the U.S. populations.
Northern bobwhite quail
One of the most economically important game birds, the northern bobwhite quail is named for the distinctive 'bob-white' mating call of males throughout the breeding season. Bobwhite quail prefer shrubby areas surrounding grasslands or agricultural fields and live in groups called "coveys" during the fall and winter.
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.
Sockeye Salmon are normally anadromous – those that do not remain in freshwater their entire lives are sometimes known as “kokanee.” Sockeye suffer from degraded water quality, habitat loss, and changing ocean conditions, alongside climate change and urban development. Progress is being made for this species via dam removal and efforts to increase instream flow.
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.