Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and the IWJV

Mission and History

WAFWAThe mission of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (the Western Association, or WAFWA) is to deliver conservation through information exchange and working partnerships.

The Western Association arose in the early 1920s out of the need for western state game managers to band together to protect common interests, particularly state sovereignty of game management. The objectives of the original organization were distinctly designed to unify members and exercise influence in policies related to protecting wildlife and fish. In due course, WAFWA clearly established the right of the states as the primary managers of resident game and fish and they are now working partners with the United States Forest Service in the field of big game management on National Forests.

Over time, the members of WAFWA expanded their purpose to address some of the leading challenges in fish and wildlife management. At the heart of many of the decisions and discussions is management of fish and wildlife using the latest research and planning tools related to population management, healthy habitat, and harvest. They are now a leading authority that provides guidance on these and other game conservation issues.

“Challenges for state fish and wildlife agencies arise every day,” said Tony Wasley, former WAFWA President and Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “Some we see coming, while others blind-side us. WAFWA’s membership includes the best minds in wildlife management in the country. Having this go-to ready resource is invaluable in effectively addressing all challenges.”

Region of Influence

The Western Association represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, spanning from Alaska to Texas and from Saskatchewan to Hawaii, an area covering nearly 3.7 million square miles of some of North America’s most wild and scenic country. A link to its member organizations can be found below.


  • Executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between State and federal land, wildlife management and science agencies to conserve and manage Greater sage-grouse, sagebrush habitats, and other sagebrush-dependent wildlife throughout the Western United States and Canada, now called the Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative.
  • Establishes working groups or workshops to advance regional conservation initiatives: Mule Deer, Wild Sheep, Sage and Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse Workshop, Western Quail, Ad Hoc Lead and Wildlife, Wildlife Chiefs’ Wolverine Sub-Committee, Directors’ Endangered Species Act/Species at Risk Act.
  • Created a novel Response Management program that conducts large-scale surveys to provide information on public attitudes and opinions. This allows WAFWA to be more responsive to competing user and public demands on natural resources.
  • Popularly known as the originators of the Project WILD, an interdisciplinary, supplementary environmental and conservation education program for educators of kindergarten through high school age young people.
  • Sage Grouse/Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative
  • Fire and Invasives: Please see this document for the latest report: Wildlife and Invasive Species in the West: Challenges that Hinder Current and Future Management and Protection of the Sagebrush-steppe Ecosystem.

Relationship with IWJV 

WAFWA recently monitored federal decisions about endangered species designations for Lesser Praire-Chickens and Greater Sage-Grouse.

The IWJV and WAFWA share a strong commitment to delivering conservation through partnerships, working across jurisdictional boundaries, sharing information, and strengthening the work of their partners. The two organizations subscribe to a simple tenet: The partnership is stronger than the sum of the parts. The IWJV and WAFWA have collaborated informally since the IWJV’s inception in 1994. However, the organizations have become increasingly aligned over the last five years through their respective work on sage grouse habitat conservation and a commitment to strategic organizational growth. Today, the IWJV and WAFWA are lock-step in a long-run effort to conserve the sagebrush ecosystem and proactively catalyze landscape-scale conservation of habitats that will support wildlife populations and communities for future generations. What’s more, over the past decade, WAFWA director representation on the IWJV Management Board has been robust, further helping to strengthen the partnership between the two entities and align their conservation priorities to an even greater extent than ever before.

Additional Information