Protection of Endangered Species,
Wildlife Preservation & Protection,
Mission: Defenders of Wildlife envisions a future where diverse wildlife populations in North America are secure and thriving, sustained by a network of healthy lands and waters. | Diverse wildlife populations - Our conservation efforts are targeted at the full range of vulnerable North American biodiversity, from plants to pollinators to predators. While we do not set geographic boundaries on our work, we primarily focus on species of North America, including migratory and transboundary species that move freely across the borders or through the waters of the United States, Mexico and Canada. We recognize that we cannot protect any species without simultaneously protecting the habitats and other species on which it relies. | Secure and thriving - We are working for the day when vulnerable North American species rebound to the point that they are secure—no longer threatened with rapid decline or extinction—and thriving in robust, well-distributed populations. | Network of healthy lands and waters - Wildlife has the greatest chance of being secure and thriving if it is supported by a transnational network of public and private lands, rivers and coastal waters, core natural areas and working landscapes.
Results: Here are some highlights of Defenders of Wildlife’s accomplishments in 2020. For a more comprehensive list, please visit our Guidestar profile to view our 2020 Annual Report.
Proposition 114, passed by Colorado voters on election day, directs the state to reintroduce wolves to Colorado, where they have been absent for nearly 80 years. Defenders worked tirelessly in support of this outcome, mobilizing scores of volunteers and promoting public awareness of the wolf among Colorado voters as a critical species in the state’s ecosystem.
With partners, Defenders challenged the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) supporting the U.S. Forest Service’s proposal to allow old growth logging on Prince of Wales Island in Tongass National Forest - one the last U.S. temperate rainforests. In March, the Alaska federal district court ruled in our favor. The project had the potential to destroy 23,000 acres of old-growth forest land, and the precedent-setting decision caused the Forest Service to delay a similar project in the central Tongass.
Over the summer, a federal judge ruled in our favor regarding our lawsuit opposing road construction through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This was a second attempt by the Trump administration to approve a land exchange to allow for construction of a road through a protected wilderness area in a national wildlife refuge that is vital to wildlife conservation in the region. This is a huge win for this habitat, the incredible diversity of wildlife that depend on it and for the National Wildlife Refuge System as a whole.
Defenders developed a new range-rider partnership with the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona, which supports a tribal member to work closely with Defenders. The San Carlos Apache Tribe controls 1.8 million acres of mostly excellent wolf habitat, which is utilized by at least three Mexican gray wolf packs.
Defenders led the creation of the Okefenokee Protection Alliance, a coalition of over thirty national, regional and local conservation groups devoted to ensuring the protection of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Defenders generated 15,000 comments opposing mining operations proposed on the edge of the swamp.
What's next? In 2021, Defenders is working closely with the Biden administration on the priorities and actions needed to safeguard America's extraordinary conservation legacy for all wildlife and people; promoting pragmatic solutions to conservation problems through partnerships, data and technology; bolstering our fight for wildlife on the ground, in the courts and in the halls of Congress; ramping up our campaign to protect imperiled species habitat strongholds on federal public lands as part of the broader 30x30 campaign; fighting to restore key laws and lands that were lost under the Trump administration; and, developing programs to mobilize and motivate a growing constituency that cares about wildlife.
Programs: Conservation and Restoration of Imperiled Biodiversity in North America:
Defenders of Wildlife focuses on the conservation of imperiled species and keystone or umbrella species that help restore the integrity and health of ecosystems. Our focus on wildlife and habitat conservation and safeguarding of biodiversity defines our important niche in the environmental and conservation community. Long known for our leadership on endangered species issues, our programs emphasize imperiled species and their habitat throughout North America because of the irreparable loss that species extinction represents. We believe in the inherent value of wildlife and the natural world. | Mobilization of a Broader Constituency for Wildlife Conservation: Defenders of Wildlife implements nation-wide conservation initiatives and place-based conservation programs that are rooted in the communities in which we work. We focus on strategic areas where we can have a positive impact on wildlife and landscapes. We are driven by our responsibility to mobilize and grow a movement for conservation that will endure for generations to come. We issue a quarterly publication, DEFENDERS, sent to all members, which features informative articles on important wildlife and land management conservation issues, editorial comment, and updates on current activities taken by the organization.