Our foundation has a long and illustrious history.
In 1911, visionary conservationists Harry Leonard and William Clark of the Winchester Arms Company established the American Game Protective and Propagation Association. Leonard and Clark realized that strong measures were needed to reverse the rampant slaughter of game in the absence of state and federal laws.
The Association pledged to preserve game and fish by initiating protective legislation, establishing reserves, educating the public and organizing societies and government authorities in a nationwide conservation effort. The Association’s grand idea was reflected in its motto: “The Game of a Continent – Ours to Perpetuate.”
By the end of 1911, the Association had established an office on Broadway in New York City and had enrolled 3,000 members of 87 clubs and organizations. Supported by a consortium of arms manufacturers, the Association members carried its campaign across the United States to Congress, playing a leading role in establishing pioneering wildlife laws.
Guiding the Association were conservation notables John Burnham, William Haskell, George Shiras III, George Grinnell, Carlos Avery and Seth Gordon, among others.
President Theodore Roosevelt gave the young organization his blessing. Their energy them to their greatest achievement – Congressional passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, signed by President Taft on March 13, 1913. Passage of this law put a stop to spring duck shooting while stimulating sportsmen to initiate enactment of new laws in their respective states, soon limiting and finally halting the rampant slaughter and commercial sale of wildlife in the absence of federal and state laws.
In 1970, the American Game Protective and Propagation Association joined with the New York State Conservation Council Foundation and American Game Association Foundation, renamed in 1978 as the American Wildlife Research Foundation. In 2003, the name was finally changed to American Wildlife Conservation Foundation to more accurately reflect its broader mission and program.