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Fish and Game Wardens

History

For centuries, wildlife has suffered because of the actions of human beings. Increasingly efficient weaponry—bows, rifles, shotguns—made it easier for people to kill game. ("Game" may be broadly defined as any fish, birds, or mammals that are hunted noncommercially for food, sport, or both.) Some species of animals have been hunted to extinction. Forests have been cleared, swamps drained, and rivers dammed to clear the way for agriculture and industry. These activities have harmed or destroyed large areas of plant and wildlife habitat.

Beginning in the late 19th century, growing concern for vanishing wildlife led to the initiation of comprehensive conservation actions. The governments of the United States and other nations have since passed protective laws and set aside national parks and other reserves for wildlife.

The principal agency assigned to the conservation and enhancement of animals and their habitats in this country is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. An agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, it is responsible for the scientific development of commercial fisheries and the conservation of fish and wildlife. The service, which was created in 1856, manages the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System. This system includes more than 560 National Wildlife Refuges, thousands of smaller wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 65 fishery resource offices, nine fish health centers, seven fish technology centers, one National Historic fish hatchery, and 86 ecological services field stations.

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