Wildlife Conservation Society has a rich history in North America. Founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society, we have played a central role in North American conservation including the first-ever survey of Alaskan wildlife in 1897 leading to laws to control overhunting. In 1905, WCS General Director William Hornaday formed the American Bison Society to protect bison from extinction. WCS also led captive breeding programs and successful reintroductions of bison across the West. In 1912, Hornaday was a principal architect of the Alaskan Fur Seal Treaty and the Migratory Bird Treaty between Canada, U.S., and England (later joined by Mexico).
During it's history in North America, WCS has supported pioneering field studies on key wildlife such as bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets, grizzlies, mountain lions and bald eagles, and helped create more than 30 U.S. parks and reserves, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Olympic and Wind Cave National Parks.
Today, as challenges such as habitat fragmentation, resource extraction, rural development, and climate change increase, WCS continues to strive for excellence in conservation across North America by turning wildlife science and research into positive conservation results. Across the U.S. and Canada, we focus on the most ecologically rich and intact wild places that offer the best chance for long-term protection of wildlife. We develop strategies to limit the stresses on wildlife, protect wildlife migration corridors, and find ways to build alliances among industries, ranchers, and local communities to broaden support for wildlife conservation across the continent.
The WCS North America Program saves wildlife and wild places in North America by understanding critical issues, crafting science-based solutions, and taking conservation actions that benefit nature and humanity
Our Unique Role in North America
Within the competitive arena of North American conservation organizations, WCS distinguishes itself with a cooperative, science-based approach to address the crucial issues facing the long-term conservation of wildlife and wild places. Generating, sharing and applying science and expert opinion to achieve conservation outcomes is central to who we are and what we do.
Our ability to provide objective science has earned the respect of our conservation colleagues as well as a many partners, ranging from resource agencies to Native American/First Nations. WCS has the ability to convene members of the scientific community, provide bridges between academic scientists and conservation partners, and strengthen the science capacity of the conservation movement. We are distinguished from many other conservation organizations by our ability to generate and synthesize technical information and apply this directly to conservation issues. WCS works across international and other jurisdictional boundaries as we are aided by the strength of our Global Conservation Program. WCS effects change at the regional, transboundary, continental and global level.