News Release

Fish and Wildlife Service Agent, State Officer Share Honors for Contributions to Wildlife Conservation

March 24, 2006



Special Agent Jack Baker, a criminal investigator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement in Washington, North Carolina, and Maj. Bruce Buckson, who serves as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions (FWC) coordinator for manatee law enforcement, have received the National Fish and Wildlife Foundations 2006 Guy Bradley Award for wildlife law enforcement.

Foundation Executive Director Jeff Trandahl presented the awards during the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on March 23, 2006.The Bradley Award is named after the first wildlife law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in 1905 and is presented each year by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to recognize individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to wildlife law enforcement.

"Were honored to present the Guy Bradley Award to Special Agent Baker and Major Buckson, who together have dedicated more than 50 years of outstanding service to protecting the Nations wildlife. Their leadership, skills and accomplishments are a model for other officers charged with safeguarding wildlife and wildlife habitat," Trandahl said.

"We join the Foundation in applauding the accomplishments of these officers," said Service Director Dale Hall. "Jack Baker, Bruce Buckson, and their State and Federal counterparts truly make a difference for wildlife."

Baker, a Service special agent who has worked primarily in North Carolina, was honored for his successful efforts to safeguard migratory birds, fish and game resources, and endangered species. His accomplishments include directing a Federal/State undercover investigation that exposed unlawful commercial waterfowl guiding along the Outer Banks and multiple successful surveillance operations to break up out-of-season clandestine waterfowl hunts.

Bakers investigative skills helped secure the prosecution of individuals and groups engaged in the unlawful commercialization of species ranging from black bears and reptiles to striped bass, red drum, and American eels. His work supporting the Services Red Wolf Recovery Program in eastern North Carolina resulted in the prosecution of several individuals for the unlawful take of this endangered species.

Baker contributed to the protection of the bald eagle in the Southeast with cases involving eagle poisonings and the unlawful destruction of eagle nest trees. One recent investigation secured nearly $100,000 in restitution from a landowner who cut down a nest tree containing two immature, flightless bald eagles. Bakers work to protect wildlife habitat has included a groundbreaking 2004 case that documented the theft of some 8.2 million gallons of water from the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, securing what is believed to be the first successful prosecution in a water/property rights case east of the Mississippi.

Baker, who earned a B.S. in wildlife biology from Colorado State University, also worked as a wildlife biologist for the State of Colorado and the U.S. Forest Service in California. He served as a wildlife officer with the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission before joining the Fish and Wildlife Service as a refuge officer in 1984. Baker became a special agent in 1986.

The Foundation honored Buckson for his leadership in wildlife law enforcement in the State of Florida and career-long contributions to conserving marine fishery resources in the Southeast and Gulf Coast regions. Buckson, who began his law enforcement career patrolling the upper Florida Keys, has coordinated marine fisheries enforcement efforts in Florida and improved safeguards for the States fishery resources.

Bucksons accomplishments include shaping the enforcement components of State regulations addressing such issues as limiting net use, pompano harvest, redfish tournament management, and black seabass trap marking. He has served as Floridas law enforcement representative to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the interstate Shellfish Sanitation Commission. His work with these groups has promoted consistency in enforcement approaches and greatly enhanced information sharing throughout the Region.

As the FWCs liason to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Law Enforcement, Buckson negotiated a Joint Enforcement Agreement between the two agencies that provided over $3 million in Federal funding for fisheries enforcement in Florida. These funds allowed the State to enhance its enforcement infrastructure through the purchase and deployment of much-needed offshore and mid-range patrol vessels.

Bucksons recent work as the States manatee enforcement coordinator has included extensive cross-training efforts to help Federal and State officers better execute their shared responsibilities for protecting manatees. His recent introduction of an electronic system for tracking enforcement hours and innovative use of electronic surveillance technology, promise to improve the efficiency of efforts to protect this endangered species from boat strikes.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984 and dedicated to the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, and habitat. The Foundation creates partnerships between the public and private sectors to strategically invest in conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

For more information, visit www.nfwf.org.


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