The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) was established in 1935 by J.N. "Ding" Darling, two-time Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist, onetime Chief of the U.S. Biological Survey, and the designer of the flying goose symbol prominent at all federal wildlife refuges. In its earliest manifestation, NWF was named the American Wildlife Institute. In February 1936, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called a general meeting of environmental and sportsmen's groups to discuss conservation issues. The result was the General Wildlife Federation, which was later renamed the National Wildlife Federation. Darling served as the organization's first President.
NWF is dedicated to the preservation of animal species that it classifies as "endangered." Among these are the American pronghorn, American robin, bald eagle, black-tailed prairie dog, buffalo, Canada lynx, Chinook salmon, Florida panther, golden-cheeked warbler, gray wolf, grizzly bear, Houston toad, humpback whale, Indiana bat, Karner blue butterfly, Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, Orca whale, polar bear, red-cockaded woodpecker, red-eyed tree frog, sage grouse, tiger, white-throated sparrow, and whooping crane. In NWF's estimation, an effective way to "preserve" such creatures is to ensure that vast tracts of formerly private land are henceforth owned and overseen by the federal government, which will bans all logging, mining, construction, energy exploration, and any other private enterprise on that land.
NWF opposes oil exploration in Alaska, denouncing "legislation that would hand the Arctic Refuge over to profit-laden oil companies, all under the guise of lowering gas prices." The organization also asserts that pollution created by human industry is responsible for global warming, which it claims will result in a host of environmental and climatic catastrophes. The NWF website features a "Global Warming Virtual March" which allows visitors to sign on as endorsers of a movement to "demand that governments, corporations, and politicians take the steps necessary to stop global warming." As of May 2006, more than 367,000 people had signed their names to this petition.
NWF endorses a variety of "family planning" initiatives as part of its Population and the Environment program. The organization also advocates for the Endangered Species Act and the Heritage Tree Preservation Act, the latter of which seeks to ban all logging in old-growth forests.
Lawrence Amon, NWF's Chief Financial Officer, has moved the organization into the arena of Socially Responsible Investing, which involves investing in groups or companies that generally oppose U.S. foreign policy, capitalism, or a strong American military.
NWF recently endorsed a document called the Earth Charter, which blames capitalism for many of the world's environmental, social, and economic problems.
NWF has 46 state and territorial affiliates, divided into 13 regions. It maintains a home office in Reston, Virginia, and a Federal and International Affairs office in Washington, D.C., as well as 11 regional offices.
To spread its message, NWF publishes an online magazine titled National Wildlife. It also publishes three subscription-only magazines for children: Wild Animal Baby; Your Big Backyard; and Ranger Rick. To raise additional funds, NWF sells such items as nature guide publications, fact cards, toys, games, DVDs and videos.