Fish and Wildlife Service

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) helps protect some of the cutest things in existence: baby otters, little ducklings, polar bears drinking Coca-cola, bunnies, frogs and even sharks and minnows. Thanks to them, there are a whole lot more awwwws (and oohs and aahs too) than there would be otherwise.

Interestingly, it was our need to eat that inspired the creation of the US Fish and Wildlife Service: it was established by Congress in 1871 to investigate declining stocks of commercial fish. Today the agency is concerned with the preservation and restoration of all native fish species, not just the ones that taste good. In addition to their fisheries programs, the Wildlife Service also works to protect and restore endangered animal species and maintain wetlands in support of migratory bird populations. To accomplish all this, FWS manages over 150 million acres of wildlife refuges, partners with hundreds of local conservation and sporting clubs, and employs a nationwide staff of nearly 9,000 (only a relative handful of whom operate out of Washington DC).

But for today’s US Fish and Wildlife Service, conservation is just part of the equation. There’s also eradication. Over 4,423 invasive animal populations, and even more invasive plant species, are threatening serious harm to our ecosystem. Fish and Wildlife spends nearly $10 million a year to combat invasive species like Asian carp, pythons, and even killer bees.

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