The History of NCWF

In 1944, NC State University wildlife management professor Ross O. Stevens published “Talk About Wildlife: For Hunters, Fishermen and Nature Lovers.” In it, he railed at the NC Department of Conservation and Development that was, at the time, the state agency for enforcing game laws, decrying “unscrupulous and selfish politicians” who had turned the Department into a repository of political favors.

Stevens outlined plans for a separate, science-based wildlife management agency. He laid the groundwork for a new way of thinking about the term “wildlife” to incorporate all animals. On February 6, 1945, he joined several dozen sportsmen-conservationists in Raleigh to plot a strategy for the creation of a separate state wildlife agency in which science alone would form the basis for natural resources management. The organization’s purpose was to promote and improve wildlife and fishing conditions in North Carolina.

On that day, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation was born, and Stevens became the first executive director a year later.

© 1999 J.N. "Ding" Darling Foundation

An all-encompassing organization

Today, we’re comprised of affiliates, chapters and members -- an all-encompassing and consensus-oriented federation for all wildlife and outdoor interests. NCWF pairs sporting issues with air, water and land protection for birders, nature observers and paddling enthusiasts alike.

This big tent approach, welcoming all and working for each species and their habitat, has proven to be an important niche and role. Our skill and experience building and leading collaborations amplify our impact and the impacts of others. Our efforts are aimed at fundamental changes in policies, processes, relationships, and power structures that would impair quality of life for all North Carolinians.

Historical highlights and wins for wildlife

  • The General Assembly, upon the  efforts of NCWF, authorizes the establishment of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in 1947.
  • Developed a pioneering system of trout stream classification for NCWRC.
  • Educated prosecutors on the importance of wildlife violations.
  • Lead support for a volunteer state duck stamp and prints, with sales going toward wetlands acquisitions.
  • Supported the Clean Detergent Act which was passed to eliminate phosphates that caused algal blooms in waterways and required hunters to wear blaze orange.
  • Helped the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission broaden its horizons when laws were written, giving it authority over endangered and nongame species.
  • Passed legislation mandating hunters to pass a hunter education certification class before being able to purchase a hunting license.
  • Pushed recycling legislation to get adopted to curb refuse in the environment.
  • Fought for tighter stream protection through sedimentation control laws.
  • Led efforts to establish Alligator River and Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuges, South Mountains game lands and Jocassee Gorges State Park.
  • Worked, funded and aided the research for restoration or reintroductions of iconic species including river otter, bald eagle, elk, turkey, whitetail deer, red wolf and osprey
  • Sued to stop peat mining in sensitive coastal areas.
  • Successfully opposed the Navy over the construction of a 30,000-acre practice landing field for jet planes adjacent to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, where hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and tundra swans and snow geese overwinter.

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