Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife believes in the inherent value of wildlife and the natural world, regardless of whether individual species are recognized as having utilitarian or aesthetic value to humankind. We believe that we will better achieve our mission to conserve all native plants and animals in North America in their natural communities if we live by convictions that guide all aspects of our work.

Company details

1130 17th Street, NW , Washington , DC 20036 USA

Locations Served

Business Type:
Professional association
Industry Type:
Market Focus:
Nationally (across the country)
Year Founded:

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.

Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is a major national conservation organization focused solely on wildlife and habitat conservation and the safeguarding of biodiversity. We believe in the inherent value of wildlife and the natural world, and this singular focus defines our important niche in the environmental and conservation community and serves as the anchor for our organizational values.

Defenders’ approach is direct and straightforward - We protect and restore imperiled species throughout North America by transforming policies and institutions and promoting innovative solutions – and this approach makes a lasting difference for wildlife and its habitat:

  • On the ground at the state and local level, developing practical, innovative programs that protect and restore key species and habitats and inform our national policy work.
  • With state, national and international policy makers to secure laws and policies that protect animals and their habitats. We are widely recognized by our peers and policymakers for the effectiveness of our advocacy work, particularly with the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture and are known for being the most effective advocate for wildlife funding in the federal appropriations process.
  • In the courts establishing legal safeguards for native wildlife and fighting efforts to roll back environmental protections. We act as legal counsel on behalf of a population segment that cannot act for itself, North America’s wildlife.

Our vision: Diverse wildlife populations in North America are secure and thriving, sustained by a network of healthy lands and waters.

What does success look like for Defenders? Our conservation vision succinctly describes the elements that define our success:

  • Diverse populations: Our conservation efforts are targeted at the full range of vulnerable North American biodiversity, from plants to pollinators to predators. We recognize that we cannot protect any species without simultaneously protecting the diversity of wildlife and habitats on which it relies.
  • North America: While we do not set geographic boundaries on our work, we primarily focus on species of North America, including transboundary terrestrial and marine species that migrate through its waters.
  • 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.

Strategic Plan

To help attain our vision, Defenders’ strategic plan provides a framework for setting objectives and allocating resources across the organization. This strategic approach prioritizes long-term solutions with measurable results to help ensure that Defenders is an effective voice for wildlife conservation. Clearly defining our vision and focusing our resources will help us to better ensure that North America’s spectacular wild animals and habitats will be here for the next generation.

Defenders’ Values Statement sets out expectations as to how employees will interact with each other, guides relationships with partners and supporters and shapes interactions with those holding differing opinions and beliefs. We are “One Defenders,” committed to working together under the highest standards of honesty and integrity to achieve transformative goals for our members, supporters and the plant and animal resources we seek to conserve. We strive to:

  • Always use the best available science to inform and guide our decisions and priorities, but recognize that it may not always be the sole driver of our actions;
  • Balance idealism with pragmatism, focusing on creating solutions rather than just identifying problems;
  • Be fair, honest, open-minded, collaborative and respectful in all of our internal and external interactions;
  • Be truthful and accurate in our internal and external communications, acknowledging and rectifying our errors when we make them;
  • Regardless of political affiliation, collaborate with others who share our commitment to wildlife conservation and challenge those who violate or seek to weaken our nation’s environmental laws;
  • Measure our performance by the achievement of lasting solutions consistent with our mission, long-term goals and priorities;
  • Value and respect the critical contributions of our members and supporters;
  • Use our resources wisely, thinking big and maximizing the impact and effectiveness of our advocacy work;
  • Value innovation, being willing to take responsible risks to advance wildlife conservation;
  • Minimize our own impact on wildlife and the environment by conserving resources in our daily work; and
  • Routinely assess both our successes and our disappointments, learning from those experiences and adapting our strategies and tactics as necessary.

Our employees are our greatest asset and we care about their welfare and professional growth—we will always listen to our co-workers suggestions for improving our operations. Empowerment is fostered throughout all levels of our organization through clarity of authority and accountability. We value the unique perspectives and backgrounds of our employees and work to expand the diversity of our workforce, board of directors and coalitions. Moreover, we recognize that conservation of biological diversity is best advanced by the contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and cultures.