What We Do

Mission & Principles

Our mission is to reform wildlife management in the U.S. to be more ecologically-driven, democratic, and compassionate:

  • Ecologically-driven, because that is what is needed to protect species and ecosystems in the face a global extinction crisis.
  • Democratic, because wildlife is a public trust and everyone should have a voice in wildlife decisions.
  • Compassionate, because wild animals deserve to be treated humanely and with respect.

Our work is guided by the following principles:

  1. Wildlife should be treated as a public trust, which federal, state, and tribal governments have a fiduciary duty first to preserve for future generations and secondly a duty to regulate current uses, enforce against illegal uses, and manage the trust for the broad public interest;
  2. Wildlife decision-making should be democratic, transparent, informed by science, and include explicit value statements;
  3. Consumptive uses and users should not be privileged; 
  4. The individual interests of all organisms to exist and thrive should be recognized and respected;
  5. All wild species, including invertebrates, have ecological value and should be protected as part of natural ecosystems;
  6. In cases of conflict, native species should be prioritized over non-natives.
  7. The public benefits broadly from the existence of wildlife, and should share in the cost of protecting it.

Our Work

With our coalition partners, we lead, coordinate and support state and national efforts to drive the following state-level reforms:

  • Enact legislation that aligns wildlife management with public trust principles, so that all species are valued and protected, all voices are heard and respected, decisions are based on sound science and values that are explicitly acknowledged, deliberations are transparent and accountable, and decisions are based on what is in the long-term best interest of wildlife, habitats, and current and future generations of humans.
  • Change the way wildlife commissions are constituted to reflect the broad public interest in wildlife, and to prioritize their duty as trustees to protect the wildlife public trust.
  • Refocus wildlife agencies to act as administrators of the wildlife public trust, and to prioritize protection of species and habitats over everything else.
  • Establish new sources of funding for wildlife conservation that are broad-based and not connected to particular “uses” of wildlife.

Are We Anti-Hunting?

Many people assume that because we are critical of the status quo in wildlife management that we must be opposed to hunting. This is not true. We are not opposed to hunting for food. Some of our staff, board and advisory committee members are hunters and/or anglers. We are not opposed to hunting, but we are pro-science, pro-democracy, and in favor of treating wild animals with compassion and respect, which is why we believe the system of wildlife management in the U.S. must be changed.

The Problem with State Wildlife Management Today

  • If the vast majority of the public abhors wildlife killing contests, why are they still legal in most states?
  • If the people who watch wildlife far outnumber those who hunt and fish, why do our wildlife agencies still focus most of their efforts on game species?
  • Why is it that at a packed state Game Commission meeting, everyone in the room can advocate for one thing but the Commission will still do the opposite?

The short answer is: our wildlife is being held hostage by a broken and antiquated system that needs our help.

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