FWS Law and Legal Definition

FWS means the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The FWS is a federal bureau of the U.S. government. It is a component of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The agency was established to manage fish, wildlife, and habitats.

The FWS’s mission is: "working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."

The U.S. FWS originated in 1871 as the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries, created by Congress with the purpose of studying and recommending solutions to a decline in food fish. In 1885, the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy was established in the United States Department of Agriculture, which in 1896 became the Division of Biological Survey. Its early work focused on the effect of birds in controlling agricultural pests and mapping the geographical distribution of plants and animals in the United States. The Fish and Wildlife Service was finally created in 1940, when the Bureaus of Fisheries and Biological Survey were combined after being moved to the Department of the Interior. Today, the Service consists of a central administrative office with eight regional offices and nearly 700 field offices distributed across the U.S.

The FWS administers the National Eagle Repository and the permit system for Native American religious use of eagle feathers. Additionally it administers two National Monuments, Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington State and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a huge maritime area northwest of Hawaii (jointly with NOAA).