NWF's Adopt a Wildlife Acre Program

Conflicts between livestock and wildlife on public lands have been ongoing for several decades. When federal agencies created public land grazing allotments more than a century ago, they were permitted almost anywhere grass was available. But as conservation on public lands evolved, the need to weigh and balance competing uses increased. This became more acute as Congress passed new laws dealing with multiple-use, conservation of watersheds, and protection of endangered species. In situations where conflicts between livestock and wildlife are prolonged and intractable, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) believes that grazing retirements represent an equitable solution for livestock and wildlife interests. Adopt a Wildlife Acre today >>

Where's the Conflict?

Bison in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park - Yellowstone is home to the most diverse assortment of wildlife found anywhere in North America. But once these iconic species leave the protected borders of the park—they are often at odds with neighboring ranchers who utilize public lands for livestock grazing. Grizzly bears and wolves are often killed or relocated when they attack livestock on National Forest lands where ranchers hold grazing privileges. In addition, magnificent wildlife including bison and bighorn sheep face great risks when they leave the park because of diseases they either carry or diseases that they may acquire from neighboring livestock.

Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge

Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge - This incredible 1.1. million-acre refuge, along with adjacent public land, contains more intact shortgrass prairie habitat than anywhere else in America. Yet livestock still graze on much of the refuge, and species like sage-grouse, pronghorn antelope, elk and mule deer must compete with livestock for habitat.

Our Solution: Adopt a Wildlife Acre

National Wildlife Federation’s Adopt a Wildlife Acre program addresses the conflicts between livestock and wildlife with a voluntary, market-based approach. We offer ranchers a fair price in exchange for their agreement to retire their public land grazing leases.

In most cases, livestock producers use our funds to relocate their livestock to areas without conflict. Wildlife has secure habitat, and rancher’s cattle can graze in an area with fewer problems. It’s a win-win situation!

What began as a small program retiring a few acres here and there has grown into a force of National Wildlife Federation members and supporters investing over $5 million towards grazing retirements and securing more than 750,000 acres of vital habitat for wildlife!

See a complete list of retired allotments >>

Adopt Now

Help secure critical habitat for at-risk wildlife by adopting a wildlife acre today >>

Species You Can Help


BISON - The American bison is an iconic symbol of the great American West. Once there were more than 50 million bison roaming the U.S. But today there are only a few thousand roaming free and managed as wildlife. When they leave the protected boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, they’re often killed by government agents in fear they’ll spread disease to nearby cattle. In one recent hard winter when many bison left the high elevation Park in search for food, more than 1,600 were killed.


GRAY WOLVES - The gray wolf was reintroduced to the Yellowstone area in 1995, and National Wildlife Federation was a leader in that effort. But more and more conflict with livestock has occurred as wolves have occupied new habitat across the west.


GRIZZLY BEARS - Like the gray wolf, the Yellowstone grizzly population is much more secure when it remains in the park and its surrounding wilderness. When bears kill livestock on public lands near the park, government agents are often required to either kill or move them. The only significant grizzly populations remaining in the lower 48 states are in the Greater Yellowstone Area and in northwestern Montana, including Glacier National Park.


BIGHORN SHEEP - Diseases carried by domestic sheep are readily transferred to wild bighorn sheep populations and have caused long-term population declines in many areas across the west. Domestic sheep grazing on public lands near occupied bighorn sheep habitat pose a significant threat to the survival of this species.

How Does Adopting Wildlife Acres Work?

  1. NWF contacts ranchers who hold leases on allotments that are on our priority list for retirement. If the rancher is interested, we negotiate a price. We base the value for retiring the allotment on the number of livestock that graze a particular allotment. All agreements that are made are completely voluntary.
  2. Next, we approach the land management agency (the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service) to make sure they are willing to permanently close the allotment. 
  3. When all three parties voluntarily agree, the agency retires the grazing permit. Through this program, we recognize the economic value of livestock grazing permits and fairly compensate ranchers for retiring their leases.

5 Adopt A Wildlife Acre Priorities

  • Focus on core recovery areas and key wildlife corridors
  • Prioritize retiring domestic sheep allotments over cattle allotments (sheep create more conflict with wildlife)
  • Give preference to retirements that create large landscape habitats without livestock
  • Identify allotments with the greatest number and frequency of livestock losses
  • Restore wild native fauna, including bighorn sheep, grizzly bears and bison to their native habitats.
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Adopt a Wildlife Acre Today!

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