Federal Watchable Wildlife Program

A Partnership for Watching Wildlife

The Watchable Wildlife partnership is a cooperative, nationwide effort to build on the interest in wildlife to achieve a better future for it. For decades, federal, state, and private agencies and organizations have worked in their own ways to conserve wildlife. Business people are recognizing the economic potential of wildlife watching. And thoughtful individuals everywhere have seen the need to preserve our diverse biological resources both for practical reasons and for the quality of human life. All these elements of society have now joined hands under the banner of Watchable Wildlife.

On December 3,1990, representatives of 13 organizations gathered in Washington, D.C. to sign a memorandum of understanding pledging to cooperate in carrying out a Watchable Wildlife Program. The signatories to this agreement were the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, Army (two offices), Navy, Air Force, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Defenders of Wildlife, Izaak Walton League, National Audubon Society, and National Wildlife Federation. One signer commented that never in his long career had he seen so many different organizations formally join to work toward a single conservation goal. All these groups either manage extensive areas of wildlife habitat or work in other ways for the conservation of wildlife. Defenders of Wildlife initiated the idea and continues to play a leading role in developing the program.

Goals of the Partnership

The ultimate goal of the Watchable Wildlife Program is to help maintain viable populations of all native animal species by building effective, well-informed public support for conservation. As we further develop our country, wildlife will be squeezed out unless we insist, individually and collectively, that wildlife in all its diversity be conserved. This means preserving some natural areas, like parks and forests, while using the rest in ways that allow an abundance of life forms to continue.

The partners in Watchable Wildlife are seeking to achieve three immediate goals.

  • Enhance wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Provide education about wildlife and its needs.
  • Promote active support of wildlife conservation.

"Wildlife" is defined as all native animals, from worms and insects to the largest mammals. All species, great and small, are important in the natural scheme of things, and all are interesting.

Wildlife Viewing Guides

Wildlife viewing opportunities are being publicized through production of state wildlife viewing guides. These are developed by state committees that select and describe many of the best sites in the state, both public and private, for viewing wildlife. The sites are picked for their wildlife, safe access, and ability to accommodate visitors without disturbing animals or their environment. In size and configuration the sites range from a few acres to long roads or trails to entire parks, forests, refuges or sanctuaries. Brown highway signs with a binoculars logo indicate the location of these Watchable Wildlife sites.


Watchable Wildlife text was borrowed from The National Park Service (www.nps.gov).