Office of Law Enforcement
Protecting Wildlife and Plant Resources
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Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The 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.

Service law enforcement today focuses on potentially devastating threats to wildlife resources -- 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:

Fish and Wildlife Service Federal officer in officer shirt. Credit: Bill Butcher / USFWSCredit: Bill Butcher / USFWS
  • Breaking up international and domestic smuggling rings that target imperiled animals
  • Preventing the unlawful commercial exploitation of protected U.S. species
  • Protecting wildlife from environmental hazards and safeguarding critical habitat for endangered species
  • Enforcing federal migratory game bird hunting regulations and working with states to protect other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities
  • Inspecting wildlife shipments to ensure compliance with laws and treaties and detect illegal trade
  • Working with international counterparts to combat illegal trafficking in protected species
  • Training other federal, state, tribal, and foreign law enforcement officers
  • Using forensic science to analyze evidence and solve wildlife crimes
  • Distributing information and outreach materials to increase public understanding of wildlife conservation and promote compliance with wildlife protection laws

When fully staffed, the Office of Law Enforcement includes 261 special agents and somre 140 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.

The Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensics 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.

Last updated: February 14, 2013