America is home to some of the most spectacular wild places and wild things on earth. The conservation of ecosystems on a landscape level scale is no accident. It has taken rigorously devoted and scientifically focused efforts to conserve those wild places and wild things.
Most of these efforts have been undertaken by dedicated groups of people who love to hunt and fish.
According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. Since 1939, fish and wildlife agencies in all 50 states have reportedly received over $71 billion in contributions from hunters and anglers. In addition to ensuring healthy fish and wildlife habitat, these funds also helped increase access to public lands, construct recreational shooting ranges, improved water quality and soil health, and facilitated educational programs.
The #1 way to support fish and wildlife conservation in the United States is to purchase a hunting or fishing license in your state.
The next best way is to purchase a gun, because the financial contributions of the firearm and ammunition industry towards wildlife conservation recently eclipsed $14 billion. Purchasing archery equipment or fishing gear is another great way to directly contribute towards conservation. That’s because an excise that equipment is sued to match funding from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses to leverage conservation efforts. Together this financial structure is known as the American System of Conservation Funding.
Another great way to directly contribute to wildlife conservation is through our friends at Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas. Every time you check out at one of their stores or online, you have the option to “round up” your purchase to the nearest whole dollar or tack on a few extra bucks. Money from the round up program goes to the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, which has a long history of supporting thousands of conservation projects America.
You can also support wildlife conservation by diverting a little bit of your beer money towards becoming a member of a conservation group. There are a wide variety of awesome fish and wildlife conservation groups to choose from. Most of them are all pulling in the same direction and collaborate on shared interests through a coalition known as America’s Wildlife Conservation Partners.
If you’re looking to actively contribute to the conservation of America’s wild places and wild things, then consider joining one of the groups from the list below.
Keep in mind that while many of these groups focus on one particular species, the conservation work these groups undertake benefits all species of wildlife that share habitat with the species the groups are named after.
Here are some of the very best conservation groups in America:
Established in 1887 by Teddy Roosevelt and named after two legendary pioneers, the Boone and Crockett Club pioneered a new era of wildlife conservation. During the late 20th century, wildlife populations in North America were on the verge of collapse due to unregulated hunting for the commercial market and no organized efforts to conserve those species.
The Boone and Crockett Club changed all that, and ushered in a century in American history where American citizens took it upon themselves to help conserve our America’s wild things and wild places. Boone & Crockett members helped implement the first laws, rules, and regulations focused on hunting and wildlife conservation and developed mechanisms to provide funding for conservation efforts. The Club also formally defined the concepts of fair chase hunting that ensure hunting is done with sound ethics and esteemed respect for wildlife. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Montana.
Perhaps the most iconic logo in the history of wildlife conservation. The unmistakable duck head outline can be seen on t-shirts and bumper stickers all over the world. Ducks Unlimited is the unquestioned world leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation. DU was founded in 1937 after unregulated hunting and the dust bowl had driven duck and geese populations to near extinction and decimated waterfowl habitat.
Since then, the organization has conserved more than 15 million acres of wildlife habitat in North America. If you believe in clean water, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and support the epic migrations of millions of waterfowl all over the continent, and love to hunt waterfowl, then DU is the group for you. Ducks Unlimited is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.
Become a Ducks Unlimited member today and you’ll receive a special commemorative 85th Anniversary Duck Call, a subscription to their magazine, and other great benefits.
Founded in 1911, Delta Waterfowl is one of the oldest and most well-respected conservation groups in America. The group works to secure the future of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting and focuses heavily upon scientific research related to habitat conservation and waterfowl ecology. The research conducted by Delta has helped revolutionize waterfowl conservation and their educational programs have helped create a lot of new duck hunters. More duck hunters means more people buying hunting licenses and duck stamps, which in turn means more money for habitat conservation. Delta Waterfowl is headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Do your part to ensure the future of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting and join Delta Waterfowl today. When you sign up you’ll get a subscription to their magazine, a decal, and exclusive deals and discounts.
No group has done more for the conservation of wild turkey populations than the aptly named National Wild Turkey Federation. When NWTF was founded in 1973 there were only about 1.3 million turkeys left in North America. Today there are over 7 million, thanks in large part to this group’s work.
NWTF has dedicated almost $500 million to wild turkey conservation efforts and introducing new folks to turkey hunting. NWTF has helped improve habitat on more than 17 million acres and the group introduces more than 100,000 people to hunting. NWTF is currently leading the charge on the Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt movement, which is a 10 year initiative to conserve or enhance 4 million acres of critical wildlife habitat, recruit 1.5 million new hunters, and open access to 500,000 additional acres of public hunting grounds. NWTF is headquartered in Edgefield, South Carolina.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a positive impact outside of just the Rocky Mountain region and on more species than just elk. RMEF is dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat, and our nation’s hunting heritage. RMEF was founded in 1984 by elk hunters who made it their life’s ambition to make sure that large herds of America’s most regal game animal have the open space and habitat they need to thrive.
By 1907 only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Today, thanks in large part to money and hard work from dedicated hunters, more than 1 million elk roam the continent and RMEF has helped permanently protect and enhanced almost 8 million acres of high quality wildlife habitat. RMEF also leads a campaign known as “Hunting is Conservation” which details the positive impact that the hunting community has had on wildlife conservation. RMEF is headquartered in Missoula, Montana.
Mule Deer populations are struggling due to environmental factors like droughts and the loss, fragmentation, and degradation of their habitat. The Mule Deer Foundation is focused on innovative and modern solutions to address those problems with an emphasis on large scale, landscape level conservation projects.
The organization was founded in the late 1980s as mule deer populations in the Western U.S. were declining. This organization puts hundreds of thousands of dollars towards great causes each year and the organization’s volunteers undertake activities like removing fences to open up migration routes for mule deer. Thanks to efforts from MDF, mule deer will be more secure in their habitat and more secure from the impact of sprawling civilization and human developments like highways well into the future. MDF is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The white-tailed deer is arguably the most iconic big game species in America and no species is more commonly pursued by hunters. By 1900 there were fewer than 500,000 white-tails left in North America. Today there are more than 30 million. That’s mostly thanks to hunters and to groups like the National Deer Association.
Since 1988, NDA has worked to promote sustainable, high-quality deer populations, wildlife habitats and ethical hunting experiences through research, education, advocacy, and hunter recruitment. NDA teaches deer hunters how to improve the management of deer populations, habitat, and hunting experiences. NDA also offers a virtual course dedicated to teaching people the introductory skills they need to start deer hunting. NDA is headquartered in Athens, Georgia.
Sign up for an NDA membership and you’ll receive a subscription to their magazine, a sticker, and access to seminars, educational courses, and other exclusive content.
Sheep hunting is one of the most arduous adventures a hunter can put themselves through. Bighorn sheep live in some of the most remote and rugged mountain ranges in North America. If you’re going to hunt a wild sheep then you’re going to have to work your ass off for it. By the 1960s, wild sheep populations had plummeted to historic lows. In 1974 this group was founded to do something about it.
In roughly 40 years since its formation, WSF has raised more than $115 million dedicated to putting and keeping wild sheep in the mountains and it has resulted in an incredible success story. Through wild sheep transplants, research, water development, predator management, educational outreach and other initiatives, the numbers of wild sheep has soared in North America, from around 25,000 in the 1950s to 85,000 today. The group is headquartered in Bozeman, Montana.
Do your part to help put and keep wild sheep on the mountain and join the Wild Sheep Foundation. Sign up now you’ll receive a Yeti Rambler with the WSF logo, a subscription to their magazine and access to other exclusive deals and content.
The worlds biggest big game hunting organization is also a world leader in wildlife conservation. Safari Club International is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. That means 50 years of protecting the freedom to hunting and promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI is headquartered on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. The group is heavily focused on advocacy and public policy related to hunting rights and natural resource management.
Safari Club also makes a tangible impact on conservation efforts around the world through the Safari Club International Foundation. Since the year 2000, the SCI Foundation has invested more than $70 million in 100 different conservation projects in 30 different countries. Much of that research has focused in ecological important issues like predator-prey dynamics, habitat enhancement, disease mitigation, and sustainable-use management.
Sign up for an SCI membership and you’ll receive a subscription to Safari magazine, a monthly newspaper, and access to additional members only web content and features.
Pheasants were actually introduced to America from Asia, but they are now deeply engrained in America’s hunting culture. It’s said that two factors impact pheasant populations above all others–habitat and weather. While Pheasants Forever can’t control the weather, the group can and does influence the quality of upland habitat and the number of pheasants on the landscape.
Since being formed in 1982, this organization has enhanced wildlife habitat on almost 16 million acres. They also works closely with government entities to ensure agricultural policies align with habitat conservation goals. Because of the habitat these projects conserve the benefits also help conserve habitat for important pollinators like bees and butterflies. The organization is headquartered in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
When you join Pheasants Forever, you’ll get a subscription to the Journal of Upland Conservation, a decal, a yearly calendar, and access to an annual comprehensive pheasant hunting forecast.
Little trees need hugs too. That was once the rallying cry of this conservation group. And it’s true, species like grouse and a wide array of other wildlife rely on early successional forest and habitat composed of smaller trees and brush as opposed to big timbered forest. Simply preserving the trees in a forest does not necessarily conserve quality wildlife habitat, but sustainably resetting forest patterns by logging helps create healthy forests and healthy wildlife habitat.
RGS is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. The group was founded in 1961and since then RGS has promoted stewardship of forests and wildlife for the future with the goal of creating landscapes of diverse, functioning forest ecosystems that provide homes for wildlife and opportunities for people to experience them. RGS is headquartered is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Wildlife conservation is just as much about public policy, government affairs, and grassroots advocacy as it is land management and on the ground habitat projects. Without sound science driving policies then hunting, fishing, fur trapping, and natural resource regulations could get out of line with the ecological principles that make those policies effective. The Sportsmen’s Alliance works closely with legislators at both the state and federal level to ensure that the collective voice of America’s sportsmen and women are represented in the halls of government. They also facilitate the sportsmen’s legal defense fund which represents the interest of sportsmen in lawsuits that impact our nation’s sporting traditions and wildlife conservation heritage. The Sportsmen’s Alliance is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.
For more information on the historic model of conservation that has made North America such a special place, check out this video from Steven Rinella and The MeatEater.