As Americans, we are blessed with not only a magnificent diversity of plant and animal life, but also strong laws that protect them – laws such as the Endangered Species Act, Lacey Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and others, the strength and breadth of which are unparalleled the world over. Like all laws, though, these statutes are only as good as our ability to enforce them, and for that, we are incredibly fortunate to have the men and women of the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement and the National Wildlife Refuge System Law Enforcement Division.
Wildlife Inspectors are stationed at wildlife ports of entry around the country. Photo by Bill Butcher/USFWS
These officers put on uniform, badge and gun to protect not just our most valuable asset –the natural world around us – but also us as we venture out into it. They ensure that our rivers are unpolluted, our air clean and our wild lands free from criminal activity.
Our K9 Program helps officers by providing specialized skills in crime prevention and in tactical situations, such as locating wildlife and contraband. They are used for tracking people and search and rescue, as well as the full gamut of police related functions. A canine partner provides officer protection and is proven to reduce injuries to law enforcement officers. Dogs are also used to detect illegal wildlife shipments.
Conservation ensures wildlife and other natural resources are available to us and the generations that will follow. And if we do not address certain vital problems today, they will cause devastation tomorrow. Problems such as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade – both homegrown and international. Our law enforcement officers are on the front lines of that fight, stopping illegal trade and cross-border transport while allowing legal trade and the benefit that provides to the world economy to continue.