U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Law Enforcement

Overview

The Office of Law Enforcement is an integral part of the overall Service program in Alaska. Enforcement activities support the regional and national interests and objectives of the Service in the sound management of the Nation's fish and wildlife resources, by enforcing Laws that prohibit the unlawful take and commercialization of wildlife. International conservation efforts are also achieved by enforcement of treaties and U.S. laws to help foreign countries protect their indigenous wildlife species.

Wildlife law enforcement in Alaska presents extraordinary challenges to special agents and wildlife inspectors working in the field. The geographical area of Alaska consists of 1,593,438 square miles of expansive tundra, diverse flora/fauna, and remote mountain ranges unparalleled by any other region of North America. Many communities in the state are not situated near the state's limited road system, and Service officers can only reach them by using aircraft, boats, or snow machines. The complexity of enforcing federal wildlife laws in Alaska is further complicated by the large number of unresolved and contentious legal issues involving the use of fish and wildlife resources by different interest groups.

Law Enforcement officer on duty
Law Enforcement officer on duty

Special agents are involved in a wide variety of activities that may include:

  • meeting with Alaska Native peoples and other residents of isolated rural communities to educate and garner support for federal wildlife laws and Service regulations;
  • conducting migratory waterfowl enforcement;
  • investigating illegal guiding activities on and off Service lands;
  • enforcing the "take" and commercialization provision of the MMPA and conducting complex covert operations.

Wildlife inspectors monitor the international traffic of wildlife and wildlife products and take appropriate enforcement action when illegal activity is discovered. Their responsibilities also include:

  • facilitating the legal trade of wildlife across our international borders;
  • interdicting attemps of smuggling into and out of our country identifying wildlife parts and products;
  • verifying the authenticity of wildlife permits, collecting fees, and promoting public outreach.