Following a courageous fight with cancer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Todd Eckhardt, 46, broke the bonds of life in the early hours of May 12, 2010, and rode on to new hunting grounds. At the time of his death, he was surrounded by family and friends who cherished his pure unadulterated zest for life. He loved and he was loved, and he will be greatly missed.
“Todd could raise spirits with his wonderful sense of humor,” said Paul Chang, Special Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement for Regions 1 and 8. “You could always count on him to be there in the trench with you if things were going bad. I will miss him as an agent of the highest caliber but most of all, I will miss him as my friend.”
A Special Agent with the Office of Law Enforcement for nearly 15 years, Todd dedicated his life to wildlife conservation and giving a voice to creatures that had none. He started his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1995 in Chicago after seven years with the Nevada Division of Wildlife, where he was honored as the Nevada Fish and Game Warden Association’s Officer of the Year in 1993. After Chicago, Todd moved to the Service’s law enforcement office in Burlingame, California, and then to Agana, Guam, where he worked on endangered species cases and key wildlife trade enforcement. While in Guam, he met wildlife inspector Karen Tanaka, who became his wife.
Since 2000, he has worked in OLE’s Klamath Falls Office, focusing on waterfowl and migratory bird issues. He was instrumental in developing an avian protection plan with PacificCorp that plays a key role in protection of bald eagles in the nation’s largest bald eagle migration route. He participated in helping protect water resources for the endangered Klamath short-nosed sucker in 2001. That same year, after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., he stepped up to protect our nation’s citizens as an air marshal for nearly six months.
Always dedicated, Todd also stepped up to maintain peace and preserve public property on the Puerto Rican island of Viequez, during a violent protest after the U.S. Navy turned over its base to the Service to manage as a national wildlife refuge. He also worked on a special protection detail during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Born in Redwood City, California, he grew up in Paradise, California, and graduated from Humboldt State University in 1986 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Management.
He is survived by his wife, Karen Tanaka-Eckhardt, who works as an Administrative Officer in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Todd’s family thanks everyone who donated leave to him during his struggle. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the American Cancer Society or Ducks Unlimited.