A Conservation History of the United States

A brief timeline of fish and wildlife conservation from 20,000 B.C. to the present

Timeline Elements: Images Icon Images  Video Icon Video

Humans have always had a connection to the lands, water, and wildlife of what is now the United States, from the traditional knowledge of the earliest Indigenous peoples to the modern era of legislative protections and species restoration. The timeline above serves as a condensed version of that history, breaking fish and wildlife conservation into ten distinct eras that interpret an evolving movement across hundreds of years in the modern age—and thousands of years before that.
Explore the timeline above by using your mouse to drag the timeline left and right, and by using the mouse track wheel to expand or contract the display.
When you click on an individual data point on the timeline, a text box will appear that contains additional information, including photos, links, and videos where applicable. Each data point is color-coded to match a subcategory of the timeline; these are listed below. Click these links to view the timeline for that era in linear text form and to access a downloadable PDF.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge:

20,00 B.C. – 1400s

New World, New Wildlife:

1500 – 1800

Mass Exploitation:

1800 – 1850

Sportsman Push for Laws to Conserve Wildlife:

1850 – 1870

Science For Fisheries

1870 – 1894


1894 – 1904

Wildlife Conservation & Awareness:

1904 – 1930

Economic and Ecological Disaster:

1930 – 1940

Silent Spring: America Listens

1940 – 1980

The Legacy:

1980 – Present: