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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Officer Honored for Contributions to Wildlife Conservation


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 27, 2003

Contact:
Sandra Cleva,
703/358-1949

 

Special Agent Frank Kuncir, who works in the Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement office in Fort Myers, Florida, has received the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's 2003 Guy Bradley Award for his contributions to protecting the Nation's wildlife resources. The award, which is named after the first wildlife law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, was presented to Kuncir at the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on March 26.

"Special Agent Kuncir and his Federal and State counterparts risk their lives every day to uphold wildlife protection laws in this country," said Service Director Steve Williams. "We're proud that one of our agents has won this prestigious award and join the Foundation in applauding the contributions that law enforcement officers make to wildlife conservation throughout this country."

Kuncir, who became a Service special agent in 1980, was recognized for his accomplishments as a criminal investigator and his success in combating such threats to wildlife as environmental contaminants and industrial hazards. His career with Service Law Enforcement has included work in Virginia and Maryland on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, in California's Central Valley, and along the southern Gulf coast of Florida.

"Agent Kuncir's career shows that one man can truly make a difference," Williams said. "His efforts to safeguard wildlife have benefited bald eagles, migratory birds, manatees, and other species as well as the millions of Americans who treasure wildlife resources."

In the late 1980s, Kuncir's investigation of the deaths of bald eagles on Maryland's Eastern Shore documented the misuse of the pesticide carbofuran. This case prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw registration of the granular form of the pesticide for certain agricultural uses in several eastern States, removing a threat to eagles and other birds. Kuncir's work on the Eastern Shore also included a cooperative Federal/State investigation that exposed large-scale over-harvesting of striped bass and led to new resource management efforts that helped restore striper populations for both sport and commercial fishing.

In California, Kuncir pursued cases that helped focus national attention on the linkage between habitat conservation and the recovery of endangered species. His investigation of eagle electrocutions prompted a major electric utility to modify its power distribution equipment. Kuncir also organized a multi-agency task force that inspected some 1,700 oil production sites and secured industry cooperation in removing hazards that kill migratory birds.

Since transferring to Fort Myers, Florida, in 1997, Kuncir has worked on investigations involving pesticides, avian powerline electrocutions, illegal waterfowl hunting, and the unlawful trapping of protected birds. He recently took on the challenge of coordinating the Service's efforts to protect manatees by enforcing boat speed limits in Florida's coastal waters. The expanded task force operations planned this year should help reduce the number of these endangered mammals that die after being hit by boats.

Kuncir has taught environmental investigative techniques to Service officers. As a firearms and boating safety instructor, he has helped numerous special agents and other Service employees stay safe on the job.

A native of Florida, Kuncir served in the Army in Vietnam, where he was wounded three times. He worked with the U.S. Forest Service as a fire boss and enforcement specialist in his home State and as a ranger with the National Park Service in Florida and Virginia before becoming a Fish and Wildlife Service special agent.

The Guy Bradley Award is a national honor presented each year by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to recognize individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to wildlife law enforcement.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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