Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities. They focus their programs on what scientists consider two of the most serious environmental threats to the planet: the accelerating rate of extinction of species and the associated loss of biological diversity, and habitat alteration and destruction. Long known for their leadership on endangered species issues, Defenders of Wildlife also advocates new approaches to wildlife conservation that will help keep species from becoming endangered. Their programs encourage protection of entire ecosystems and interconnected habitats while protecting predators that serve as indicator species for ecosystem health. Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is a 501(c)(3) membership organization with over 460,000 members and supporters nationwide.