Newsroom Midwest Region

Chicago-based wildlife inspector team recognized for superior teamwork

February 23, 2017

Carved elephant ivory. Photo by Tina Shaw/USFWS.
Carved elephant ivory. Photo by Tina Shaw/USFWS.

On February 16, Assistant Director for the Office of Law Enforcement Bill Woody presented the Department of Interior Unit Award to the Wildlife Inspector Team in Rosemont, Illinois. This award is presented to individuals who collaboratively work together as a team and who produce superior results in the name of conservation.

Over the last several years, this inspection team interdicted dozens of illegal wildlife shipments that are valued in the millions of dollars. These actions resulted in multiple criminal prosecutions, fines, and penalties valued at more than $600,000. The team worked to target and identify shipments containing illegal wildlife products, like elephant, walrus, and hippo ivory, as well as other illegal wildlife.

In many cases, the items were being illegally smuggled out of the United States and were destined for Asia. They could have been sold for large illegal profits in the Asian marketplace and would have been in violation of the Endangered Species Act, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the Lacey Act.

"Our wildlife inspectors are the nation's front-line defense against the illegal wildlife trade and essential in our fight against wildlife crime. I'm honored to recognize this team of dedicated professionals," said Woody.

Team members include: Law Enforcement Support Assistant Cynthia Holcik, Wildlife Inspector Leigh Graham, Wildlife Inspector Laura Diprizio, Wildlife Inspector Kelly Ishmael, Wildlife Inspector / K9 Handler Amanda Dickson, and Wildlife Inspector Jennifer Roth (not in attendance).

This team of wildlife inspectors, along with their K9 Lancer, is responsible for clearing more than 9,000 shipments of declared wildlife annually. In addition, they are challenged with interdicting smuggled wildlife that is shipped through the Port of Chicago, Illinois and Chicago O'hare International Airport. This team also works to interdict wildlife that international passengers bring with them, both entering and exiting the country. All told, they are tasked with finding smuggled wildlife being illegally shipped into or out of the United States through Chicago by air, sea, U.S. Mail, and by rail.

Bill Woody with wildlife inspector team in Rosemont, Illinois. Photo by USFWS.
Bill Woody with wildlife inspector team in Rosemont, Illinois. Photo by USFWS.