National Wildlife Refuge System

Refuge Law Enforcement

Protecting Your National Wildlife Refuge

Our Law Enforcement Vision:

Through education and enforcement, we protect our employees, volunteers, and visitors, the integrity of the habitat, the wildlife and the cultural trust resources, and safeguard the public's investment in the facilities and equipment of the 150 million-acre NWRS.


Report Refuge Violations

1-844-NWR-TIPS (697-8477)


Federal Wildlife Officers of the National Wildlife Refuge System

The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) employs a professional cadre of Federal Wildlife Officers (FWO) dedicated to natural resource protection and public safety.  FWOs contribute to community policing, environmental education and outreach, protection of native subsistence rights, as well as other activities supporting the Service’s conservation mission.  FWOs are routinely involved with the greater law enforcement community in cooperative efforts to combat the nation’s drug problems, addressing border security issues, and other pressing challenges.

Federal Wildlife Officers protect the security and safety of more than 47 million refuge visitors, Service employees and volunteers, government property, and wildlife populations and habitats.  In calendar year 2011, FWOs documented more than 35,000 law enforcement incidents on wildlife refuges, including more than 5,600 hunting contacts; 4,200 fishing contacts; 692 endangered species issues; 755 easement violations, and 59 Archaeological Resource Protection Act cases.  FWOs responded to 239 medical situations, conducted 297 search and rescue missions, and participated in more the 14,500 educational encounters.

Officers of the NWRS support a broad spectrum of Service programs by enforcing conservation laws established to protect the fish, wildlife, cultural and archaeological resources the Service manages in trust for the American people.  FWOs participate in educating the public about the Service mission, providing safety and security for the visiting public, and assisting local communities with law enforcement and natural disaster recovery.

Our Law Enforcement Goals:  Our goals are to:

  1.  Enhance the protection and management of fish, wildlife, and other natural and cultural resources on NWRS lands and conservation easements;

  2. Obtain compliance from the public with laws and regulations necessary for proper administration, management, and protection of federally protected fish and wildlife;

  3. Provide a safe environment for Service employees, volunteers, and visitors; and

  4. Assist visitors in understanding refuge laws and regulations through effective outreach and positive visitor contacts.

Last updated: September 4, 2014