Defenders of Wildlife



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. We focus our programs on what scientists consider the two most serious environmental threats to our planet: the accelerating rate of species extinction and associated loss of biological diversity and the alteration and destruction of habitat.
Founded in 1947, Defenders’ distinguished record of conservation leadership includes helping ensure final passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973. Our current priorities include conserving wildlife on public and private lands, including top predators that maintain biodiversity; protecting the ESA and other important wildlife conservation laws from political attack; supporting policies and practices that help wildlife adapt to climate change; and advocating for responsible renewable energy development on public and private lands. Based in Washington, D.C., Defenders has field staff in 13 states, a consultant in Mexico and a network of more than 1.8 million members and activists working together to protect wildlife and habitat.
Defenders’ approach is direct and straightforward – We protect and restore imperiled species throughout North America by transforming policies and institutions and by promoting innovative solutions. We speak with one voice informed by scientific, legal and policy expertise, hands-on wildlife management experience and effective advocacy.
Our team has the experience and knowledge to engage in any arena to protect wildlife—Congress, the courts, federal and state agencies, academia and public debate—and does so tirelessly and effectively. Our field offices give us a grounding in the ecosystems and communities where we work, allowing us to engage the public, build support for conservation and develop practical solutions that will stand the test of time. Fueled by the commitment of our members, partners and supporters, we are building a powerful, enduring voice for wildlife conservation.

Mission Statement

Defenders of Wildlife is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.

Program Details

Defenders of Wildlife deploys a wide range of tools and tactics, from policy analyses and advocacy, to litigation, innovative science and technology programs and field conservation. Every Defenders program aligns with or contributes to at least one of three broad imperatives:
  • Prevent species and their habitats from becoming imperiled.
  • Protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats.
  • Restore the health of vulnerable species and their habitats.
Long known for our leadership on endangered species issues, Defenders of Wildlife is a solution-oriented organization dedicated to saving rare animals and plants, conserving habitat and building a broad constituency for protecting wildlife and wild places.
We develop and advocate for innovative solutions which will encourage conservation of entire ecosystems and interconnected habitats while protecting predators that serve as indicator species for ecosystem health. Through this multi-pronged approach of education, advocacy, research and litigation, we work specifically to:
  • Protect Native Animals and Plants: We develop and champion practical programs to save a wide variety of North American species, including keystone species such as gray wolves, grizzly bears, sea otters and jaguars.
  • Restore and Preserve Habitat: We promote progressive land-use strategies that safeguard key habitats such as wetlands, deserts, forests and grasslands from development and degradation.
  • Advocate for Environmental Legislation: We mobilize supporters and work with partners on the international, national, state and local levels to secure laws and policies that safeguard wild species and their habitats.
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1130 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
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