Among the responsibilities of the FWS are enforcing federal wildlife laws, protecting endangered species, managing migratory birds, restoring nationally significant fisheries, conserving and restoring wildlife habitat, such as wetlands, helping foreign governments with their international conservation efforts, and distributing money to states' fish and wildlife agencies through the Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration program.
Units within the FWS include:
The vast majority of fish and wildlife habitat is on non-federal lands. Therefore, the FWS works closely with private groups, such as Partners in Flight, Sport Fishing and The Boating Partnership Council, to assist voluntary habitat conservation and restoration.
The FWS employs approximately 9,000 people and is organized into a central administrative office (in Falls Church, VA), the hallway where directorate members sit at the Department of the Interior in (in Washington, DC), eight regional offices, and nearly 700 field offices distributed throughout the United States.
The USFWS originated in 1871 as the United States Commission on Fish and Fisheries, more commonly referred to as the United States Fish Commission, created by the United States Congress with the purpose of studying and recommending solutions to a noted decline in the stocks of food fish. Spencer Fullerton Baird was appointed its first commissioner. In 1903, the Fish Commission was reorganized as the United States Bureau of Fisheries.