United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement

Last updated
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement
USFWS Badge.png
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Badge
Agency overview
Formed1900;120 years ago (1900)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction United States
Map of USA States with names white.svg
US FWS Jurisdiction throughout the United States.
Size3,796,742 square miles (9,833,516.64 km2)
Population325,719,178 (2017)
Legal jurisdiction United States
Governing body U.S. Government
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia
Special Agents261 [1]
Agency executive
  • William Woody, Chief of Law Enforcement
Parent agency United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Website
www.fws.gov/le/ OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg [2]

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.

Contents

The Office of Law Enforcement focuses on potentially devastating threats to wildlife resource-illegal trade, unlawful commercial exploitation, habitat destruction, and environmental contaminants. The Office of Law Enforcement investigates wildlife crimes, regulates wildlife trade, helps Americans understand and obey wildlife protections laws, and works in partnership with international, state, and tribal counterparts to conserve wildlife resources. This work includes:

Distributing information and outreach materials to increase public understanding of wildlife conservation and promote compliance with wildlife protection laws.

Special agents

In order to become a FWS Special Agent, an applicant must be between the ages of 23 and 37. However, due to the decision in Robert P. Isabella v. Department of State and Office of Personnel Management, 2008 M.S.P.B. 146, preference eligible veterans may apply after age 37. In 2009, the Office of Personnel Management issued implementation guidance on the Isabella decision: OPM Letter The applicant must also hold American citizenship, have a clean record, and hold a four-year bachelor's degree. In addition, all special agents are required to sign a mobility agreement which indicates a willingness to accept a reassignment to any location as dictated by the needs of the Service.

New special agents attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Georgia for 18 weeks of training. This training includes comprehensive courses in protective techniques, criminal law, use of special investigative equipment, use of firearms, and defensive measures. Rules of evidence, surveillance techniques, undercover operations, and courtroom demeanor are also studied. Classroom study is supplemented with on-the-job training when agents report to their assigned field stations. As agents in training, they assist in carrying out surveillance activities, participating in raids, interviewing witnesses and suspects, searching for physical evidence and clues, seizing contraband, and serving search warrants. The emphasis on training and the vast experience they gain make U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agents among the best wildlife law enforcement professionals in the world.

When fully staffed, the Office of Law Enforcement includes 261 special agents and 122 wildlife inspectors. Most are "officers on the beat" who report through eight regional law enforcement offices. A headquarters Office of Law Enforcement provides national oversight, support, policy, and guidance for Service investigations and the wildlife inspection program; trains Service law enforcement personnel; fields a special investigations unit; and provides budget, management and administrative support for the Office of Law Enforcement.

Resources

The Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory conducts scientific analyses that support federal, state, and international investigations of wildlife crime. The Office of Law Enforcement also maintains a National Wildlife Property Repository, which supplies abandoned and forfeited wildlife items to schools, universities, museums, and non-government organizations for public education, and operates the National Eagle Repository, which meets the needs of Native Americans for eagles and eagle feathers for religious use.

The National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository, near Denver, Colorado stores in a 16,000-square-foot (1,486 square meters) warehouse 1.5 million specimens, mainly products made from endangered animals: tiger, rhinoceros, sea turtle, crocodile and elephant. A row of shelves 50 feet long and 10 feet high stores the hides and mounted heads of big cat: cheetah, tiger, jaguar, margay, ocelot and leopard. An objective of the server is assuring the U.S. complies with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The treaty regulates wildlife commerce to assure the survival of threatened species. The specimens in the repository were seized in customs searches at U.S. ports of entry or being trafficked across state lines. The facility develops educational programs about wildlife trade, endangered species, and conservation laws. [3]

The current Chief of Law Enforcement for the US Fish and Wildlife Service is William Woody.

Laws Enforced

Special Agents enforce laws regarding the conservation and preservation of many plant and animal species throughout the United States and being brought into the country from elsewhere. Special Agents primarily focus on the enforcement of the following federal laws: [4]

Regional Offices

The Office of Law Enforcement is Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia. In addition, there are eight regional offices that serve different geographical regions of the U.S. [5]

Notable cases

In Operation Chameleon the FWS undertook action against several internationally operating reptile smuggling networks. The investigations led to several convictions.

In her book, Hunt for Justice, retired Special Agent Lucinda Schroeder details the Service's undercover program to arrest and convict Alaskan hunting guides who were conducting illegal hunts in Alaska's northern Brooks Range.

Related Research Articles

United States Forest Service Federal forest and grassland administrators

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The Forest Service manages 193 million acres (780,000 km2) of land. Major divisions of the agency include the Chief's Office, National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, Business Operations, and Research and Development. The agency manages about 25% of federal lands and is the only major national land management agency not part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service United States federal government agency

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is an agency of the US federal government within the US Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats. The mission of the agency is "working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."

National Wildlife Refuge type of federal conservation area in the United States

National Wildlife RefugeSystem is a designation for certain protected areas of the United States managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge System is the system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife, and plants. Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the system has grown to over 568 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts encompassing more than 150,000,000 acres (607,028 km2).

Endangered Species Act of 1973 United States Law

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is the primary law in the United States for protecting imperiled species. Designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation", the ESA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973. The U.S. Supreme Court called it “the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species enacted by any nation.” The purposes of the ESA are two-fold: to prevent extinction and to recover species to the point where the law's protections are not needed. It therefore “protect[s] species and the ecosystems upon which they depend" through different mechanisms. For example, section 4 requires the agencies overseeing the Act to designate imperiled species as threatened or endangered. Section 9 prohibits unlawful ‘take,’ of such species, which means to “harass, harm, hunt...” Section 7 directs federal agencies to use their authorities to help conserve listed species. The Act also serves as the enacting legislation to carry out the provisions outlined in The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The U.S. Supreme Court found that "the plain intent of Congress in enacting" the ESA "was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost." The Act is administered by two federal agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). FWS and NMFS have been delegated the authority to promulgate rules in the Code of Federal Regulations to implement the provisions of the Act.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA), codified at 16 U.S.C. §§ 703712, is a United States federal law, first enacted in 1916 to implement the convention for the protection of migratory birds between the United States and Great Britain. The statute makes it unlawful without a waiver to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell birds listed therein as migratory birds. The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs, and nests. Over 800 species are currently on the list.

National Marine Fisheries Service an office of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), informally known as NOAA Fisheries, is the United States federal agency responsible for the stewardship of national marine resources. The agency conserves and manages fisheries to promote sustainability and prevent lost economic potential associated with overfishing, declining species, and degraded habitats.

Hawadax Island island in the United States of America

Hawadax Island is an island in the Rat Islands archipelago of the western Aleutian Islands in the U.S. state of Alaska. The island was formerly known as Rat Island until May 2012 when it was renamed Hawadax Island, which is an Aleut name meaning "entry" and "welcome". The island has a land area of 10.3126 sq mi (26.7095 km²) and no permanent population. It is within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. It is 9.3 miles (15 km) in length and 3.1 miles (5 km) in width.

Defenders of Wildlife non-profit organisation in the USA

Defenders of Wildlife is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization based in the United States. It works to protect all native animals and plants throughout North America in their natural communities.

Emergency Wetlands Resources Act

The Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986 became a United States federal law (P.L.) 99-645 on November 10, 1986. Prior to the Act the purchase of wetlands by the Federal Government had been prohibited. The Act allocated funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for the purchase of wetlands by the Secretary of Interior, who is head of the United States Department of the Interior. The Act also instituted a National Wetlands Priority Conservation Plan which was to be established and set up by the Secretary. Included in this plan was a requirement for all States to include wetlands as part of their Comprehensive Outdoors Recreation plan. The plan also transferred the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund amounts which were to be equal to the import duties on arms and ammunition. The main purpose of the Act was to ensure a follow through on international obligations and fulfillment of these obligations on the various past and future migratory bird treaties. It also promoted the conservation of wetlands so the benefits they provide could be maintained.

History of the National Wildlife Refuge System aspect of history

The National Wildlife Refuge System in the United States has a long and distinguished history.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife government agency in California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), formerly known as the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), is a state agency under the California Natural Resources Agency. The Department of Fish and Wildlife manages and protects the state's fish, wildlife, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, algae (kelp) and native habitats (ecosystems). The Department is responsible for regulatory enforcement and management of related recreational, commercial, scientific, and educational uses. The Department also prevent illegal poaching.

Hunting license Regulatory or legal mechanism to control hunting

A hunting license is a regulatory or legal mechanism to control hunting.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement is a federal police part of the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. The leadership consists of Director James Landon, Deputy Director Logan Gregory, Assistant Director Todd Dubois, and Budget Chief Milena Seelig.

A conservation officer is a law enforcement officer who protects wildlife and the environment. A conservation officer may also be referred to as an environmental technician or technologist, game warden, forest ranger, gamekeeper, investigator, wilderness officer, wildlife officer, or wildlife trooper. In Canada, all of these fall under the rubric of National Occupational Classification code 2224.

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act is a United States federal statute that protects two species of eagle. The bald eagle was chosen as a national emblem of the United States by the Continental Congress of 1782 and was given legal protection by the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940. This act was expanded to include the golden eagle in 1962. Since the original Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act has been amended several times. It currently prohibits anyone, without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from "taking" bald eagles. Taking is described to include their parts, nests, or eggs, molesting or disturbing the birds. The Act provides criminal penalties for persons who "take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or any manner, any bald eagle ... [or any golden eagle], alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof."

Wildlife inspector

A wildlife inspector is a person empowered by law to protect wildlife.

Endangered species Species of organisms facing a very high risk of extinction

An endangered species is a species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a particular political jurisdiction. Endangered species may be at risk due to factors such as habitat loss, poaching and invasive species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List lists the global conservation status of many species, and various other agencies assess the status of species within particular areas. Many nations have laws that protect conservation-reliant species which, for example, forbid hunting, restrict land development, or create protected areas. Some endangered species are the target of extensive conservation efforts such as captive breeding and habitat restoration.

Manatee conservation

Manatees are large marine mammals that inhabit slow rivers, canals, saltwater bays, estuaries, and coastal areas. They are a migratory species, inhabiting the Florida waters during the winter and moving as far north as Virginia and into the Chesapeake Bay, sometimes seen as far north as Baltimore, Maryland and as far west as Texas in the warmer summer months. Manatees are calm herbivores that spend most of their time eating, sleeping, and traveling. They have a lifespan of about 60 years with no known natural enemies. Some of their deaths are the result of human activity. In the past, manatees were exploited for their meat, fat, and hides.

National Eagle Repository

The National Eagle Repository is operated and managed under the Office of Law Enforcement of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service located at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge outside of Denver, Colorado. It serves as a central location for the receipt, storage, and distribution of bald and golden eagles that have been found dead. Eagles and eagle parts are available only to Native Americans enrolled in federally recognized tribes for use in religious and cultural ceremonies.

James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaii. It was established in 1976 to permanently protect an ecologically-intact unit and to provide habitat for native and migratory fauna and native flora. It established critical habitat for Hawaii's four endangered waterbirds, the ʻalae kea, koloa maoli, ʻalae ʻula, and āeʻo and many migratory seabirds, endangered and native plant species, and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle. It also provides increased wildlife-dependent public uses and flood control within the refuge and the local community.

References

  1. Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife. "Office of Law Enforcement - About Service Law Enforcement". www.fws.gov.
  2. "Office of Law Enforcement - Home Page". Fws.gov. 2018-07-02. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  3. Wallace, Scott (March 1, 2016). "See What's Inside This Grisly Warehouse of Wildlife Trafficking". National Geographic News. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  4. "Annual report" (PDF). www.fws.gov. 2016.
  5. Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife. "Office of Law Enforcement - Regional Law Enforcement Offices". www.fws.gov.