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Biological and Physical Resources, Wildlife icon

Get Wild!

Get Wild! is the Forest Service's terrestrial and semi-aquatic wildlife program, serving as an umbrella for 12 national wildlife emphasis areas plus locally important species and communities. The objectives of the Get Wild! program are to:

  • administer wildlife management activities;
  • to protect and restore native habitats important for conserving biodiversity;
  • to manage habitats in a manner that meets public demand for hunting and wildlife viewing and appreciation; and
  • to assure a well-trained work force and effective organizational structure for applying best science and management in meeting the wildlife-related goals of the Agency.

In keeping with ecosystem management, the Forest Service is moving toward broader-based management of species assemblages. Management is routinely targeted to species assemblages and communities such as upland early associate species, wetland habitats, dead and dying tree associated species (almost 30 percent of the vertebrate species on National Forest System lands), fire-adapted communities and old growth species. Management is directed toward maintaining biodiversity for all wildlife that is not endangered or threatened, and within the capabilities of long-term sustainability, managing for species at higher levels to meet public demand. Frequently, this means providing for a better mix of successional stages for landscape level biodiversity, or protecting especially important habitats like wetland and riparian areas.Photograph.  Wolf sitting in snow looking back over his/her shoulder.

In FY 1995, National Forest System Lands (NFS) provided 16.1 million activity days of hunting, at an estimated economic value of $574 million. These expenditures supported 18,900 local jobs and generated State sales and income taxes of $22.6 million.

National forests and grasslands are also increasingly popular spots to watch birds, photograph wildlife and study nature. Wildlife and fish viewing is the fastest growing wildlife use and opportunity. In 1995, NFS lands provided 33.3 million activity days and 55,000 jobs at an economic value of $1.6 billion.

The national forests and grasslands provide: 80 percent of the elk, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep habitat in the lower 48 States; as much as 12 million acres of waterfowl habitat; 28 million acres of wild turkey habitat; and habitat for 250 species of neotropical migratory birds.

Forest Service Partnership Programs

Answer the Call 

This program improves food, cover, and water supplies for all species of quail. 
Animal Inn 

"There's Life in Dead Trees" identifies the emphasis in this educational program for public land managers and private landowners. 
Partners in Flight 

Emphasizes the conservation of neotropical migratory birds, whose populations are declining. 
Eyes on Wildlife 

Provides opportunities for enjoying wildlife viewing. Its objectives include providing opportunities for all people, including those with disabilities, to enjoy and experience animals in wildlands habitats; informing people about wildlife and plant communities; and encouraging habitat protection.  Part of NatureWatch program.
Elk Country 

The majority of elk depend on the National Forests. Elk and other wildlife are provided for through habitat enhancement, land acquisition and exchange, and research.
A Million Bucks

Widely distributed and abundant, deer personify "wildlife" for many people. Opportunities exist to manage deer for non-consumptive uses as well as hunting on 100 million acres of deer habitat. Management activities include prescribed burning, planting for browse, fertilization, and protection of special habitats. 
Full Curl 

Restores the quality and quantity of wild sheep habitat to increase populations for viewing and hunting. 
Dancers in the Forest

Native grouse are found in every region of the country. This program is aimed at improving habitat for the various species of grouse through activities such as creating openings, prescribed burning, aspen management, and protection of breeding habitat. 

Be Bear Aware & Wildlife Stewardship

North America is home to three different species of bears, some say actually four. USDA Forest Service is a partner with the "Be Bear Aware & Wildlife Stewardship Campaign". On Forest Service land, we work toward safe situations for both humans and wildlife. Ignorance isn't always bliss when it comes to wildlife-human interactions. Be Aware and enjoy nature.

Southwestern Region - Be Bear Aware

Making Tracks 

Emphasizes wild turkey habitat management to improve population, health, and size; provide recreational opportunities; and promote conservation on public lands. 


Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) is an inclusive partnership dedicated to the conservation of the herpetofauna--reptiles and amphibians--and their habitats. The USDA Forest Service is a partner with state and other federal agencies, conservation organizations, museums, pet trade industry, nature centers, zoos, energy industry, universities, herpetological organizations, research laboratories, forest industries, and environmental consultants.

Using Binoculars

Some very good ideas to teach and encourage kids to use binoculars. Although the "focus" is on birds (oh yeah, that one was intentional), you can use these ideas when viewing any wildlife. In addition to International Migratory Bird Day, May is Be Bear Aware month. Encouraging the public to use binoculars promotes safe and responsible viewing of bears and other wildlife. Although, the idea in this article (from Montana Audubon) with chocolate chip cookies is not advisable in bear country.

(Excerpted from an email by Susan Gilchrist, IMBD Coordinator)

You can apply the activity ideas to training for new volunteers or teaching beginning birding yourself, or perhaps you have additional ideas to add to the collection.There are basic instructions available in a myriad of places, including the instructions that usually come with a new pair. The Flying WILD Educator's Guide features an outdoor component which includes a very simple breakdown of how teachers can teach their students to use binoculars. An article in Birds of Britain goes into some extra details such as magnification, wearing binoculars, cleaning them, etc. Once you are past the mechanics of how to focus binoculars, there are some exercises you can use to have students practice using binoculars in a set course that pretty well guarantees success. Having a successful experience with binoculars is the best encouragement for getting new potential birders out in the field.

  • WBCI (Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative) suggests having kids focus binoculars on a poster or a placemat with pictures of Wisconsin birds put up on a bulletin board across the room. Many birding teachers use pictures of birds. Whether the pictures of birds are grouped on a poster or posted singly, the benefit of this idea is that the "birds" hold still while the student gets the binoculars focused and lined up.

  • You can have the students use the binoculars to read the names of the birds underneath pictures of birds too, whether the names appear on the poster or you post them by the picture yourself.

  • Paul Belanger and the folks at Montana Audubon have a couple of great tricks up their sleeves. They have students use binoculars to read some instructions at the other end of the room. The instructions can help transition the group from indoors to outside, preparing them to go outside birding. For example, the instructions might read:
    1. Read these instructions SILENTLY to yourself.
    2. When you have finished reading the instructions, pass the binoculars to your partner if they have not read them.
    3. With your partner, go get a piece of unused paper, a pencil, and something solid to write on (a clipboard or a book).
    4. Sit together and wait silently for further instructions.
  • Another fabulous idea from Montana Audubon is to post parts of a chocolate chip cookie recipe along a trail so the students move from station to station in teams. Standing behind a line, they have to use their binoculars to read the directions to make cookies. If they write down the parts of the recipe right, they will end up with a complete recipe to take home and the immediate reward of a cookie to eat on the spot!

  • Beth Almeras from the National Wildlife Federation shared the suggestion that you identify one person to be the "Bird" (put a feather in the person's cap or provide a special bird hat to identify the chosen one). The "Bird" can "chirp" loudly from the bushes until the students in the group can all zero in on him or her (or the cap!) with binoculars.

  • At the Green Mountain Audubon Center in Vermont, Bridget Butler said they used the Audubon plush birds to help kids learn to focus binoculars. First they selected birds for which they had both the plush bird and the Waterford Press field card. Then they posted the plush birds along the edge of a field in trees and bushes or on the ground, as appropriate. The students focused their binoculars on a plush bird, then successfully identified it using the field card. The educators worked the students up to using a beginning field guide for bird identification. Working with preschoolers, kids taped together empty toilet paper rolls in pairs of "binoculars". They enjoyed both making and using the "binoculars" on fantasy adventures or real field trips. This is a good exercise for beginning birding because looking through the tubes familiarizes the children with the idea of focusing on one target with their vision, and being able to find through the tubes whatever they were just looking at with their naked eyes is good practice for binoculars.

  • With middle level students, perhaps you can introduce binoculars with some physics by engaging them with prisms first and some explanations of how magnifying lenses, telescopes, and binoculars work to help us see details that are small or far away. Binoculars have been used for other things besides bird watching; they can be used for guiding people through wilderness, for military maneuvers, spying, astronomy, and more. Who was Galileo and what did he have to do with binoculars?

  • Theresa Cross of the Louisiana Dept. of wildlife and Fisheries says the key in teaching the use of binoculars is to convince the students that it's okay to say they don't get it, so they don't say they can see what you ask them to look at just to make you happy. Having a successful experience using binoculars is a good step towards feeling empowered to go birding.

Hunting Facts

  • 21.2 Million U.S. Citizens Hunted in 1994.
  • 9.4% of U.S. citizens 16 years and older hunted in 1994.
  • Over 16 million activity days (9.4 big game, 5.1 small game, and 1.6 migratory birds) were spent on national forests and grasslands.
  • The percent of females that hunted more than doubled between 1985 and 1990.
  • Being close to nature is growing in importance for hunting motivation.
  • more info on hunting...

This Translates into Big Business for National, State, and Local Economies

Photograph:  Mountain LionIn 1994, national hunting expenditures exceeded $12 billion - $4.2 billion related to national forests and grasslands.

In 1994, Forest Service related hunting provided over 18,000 full time equivalent jobs - such as guides, restaurant/hotel.

In 1994, Forest Service related hunting generated State sales tax, State income tax, and Federal taxes of $19.6 million, $4.9 million, and $52.7 million, respectively.

In 1995, partners contributed $7.7 million toward 1,124 projects in the Forest Service Get Wild! wildlife program.

The 1995 Forest Service Congressional wildlife budget of $31.95 million resulted in net public recreational hunting benefits of $767.9 million - return of over $24 for each tax dollar invested.

Closer to Home...

Photograph:  butterflyThe Forest Service has contributed more than $1 million to the New Mexico's Habitat Stamp Program, since its inception in 1986.

In 1996, an Arizona desert bighorn sheep permit and a Montana bighorn sheep were auctioned off for $285,000 and $220,000, respectively.

Over 500,000 activity days of big game hunting took place on Forest Service lands in Oregon in 1994. This resulted in local expenditures of almost $23 million.

The 1992 Shorebird Festival in Cordova, AK, contributed $30,000 to the local community of 2,000 residents.

Eleven woodland ponds were developed to improve turkey habitat on the Daniel Boone National Forest, KY, with the help of partners.

Partners on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahre, and Gunnison NFs, CO, helped band over 500 birds of 30 species. Data will be used for population monitoring and on-site resource planning.

You can find locations for viewing wildlife, plants and fish through our NatureWatch website

Disclaimers | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Privacy Notice

Biological and Physical Resources (BPR)
Washington, D.C. Office
Author: Shelly Witt, National Continuing Education Coordinator, BPR staff
Phone: 435-881-4203
Publish Date: 8/31/21
Expires: none

Photo Credits

USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090
(202) 205-8333