Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

March 16, 2012


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Senior Special Agent Dan Burleson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement office and Captain Bill Hebner of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have been selected to receive the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s 2012 Guy Bradley Award for wildlife law enforcement.

Both recipients were honored during the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 15, 2012. Named after the first wildlife officer killed in the line of duty in 1905, the Guy Bradley Award is presented each year by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to recognize individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to wildlife law enforcement.

“We’re proud to present the Guy Bradley Award to Dan Burleson and Bill Hebner in recognition of their outstanding work in protecting and conserving our wildlife resources.  Their dedication and accomplishments provide a model for all those charged with safeguarding wildlife and wildlife habitat,” said Foundation Director Jeff Trandahl.

“Effective law enforcement is one of the cornerstones of professional wildlife management. Dan Burleson and Bill Hebner have both risked their lives countless times over the years to ensure the safety of hunters and others who enjoy the outdoors, while protecting our wildlife heritage from those who would degrade and exploit it,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Their work, as well as that of their state and federal law enforcement counterparts nationwide, truly makes an enormous difference for wildlife.”

Burleson, who has worked in conservation law enforcement for more than 30 years, was honored for his success in completing high-profile investigations that helped safeguard wildlife resources in the United States and Canada.  These efforts included multiple cases exposing the illegal harvest and trafficking of U.S. paddlefish, sturgeon, and other fishery resources and investigations that documented unlawful guiding and hunting of migratory birds and big game species.  His undercover “roles” included infiltrating a multi-state ring of wildlife traffickers killing captive tigers for the trophy and exotic meat trades.

As a Service special agent stationed in Missouri, Burleson established and maintained a productive and effective partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation that resulted in numerous cooperative Service/State investigations of illegal hunting and commercial fishing. He served as a mentor and training officer for fellow agents and conducted training courses on investigating wildlife crimes in Botswana and the Philippines.

Burleson, who became a Service special agent in 1988, was also recognized for contributions to conservation earlier in his career.  He served as a Service wildlife inspector for four years at the port of Houston, where he intercepted smuggled wildlife, and as a compliance officer with what was then the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Foundation honored Captain Bill Hebner for investigative accomplishments that date back to 1975 – the year he joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as a wildlife agent in Okanogan County. His selection in 1985 as the first detective in the agency’s Statewide Special Investigations Unit testifies to his early success in exposing illegal big game hunting and wildlife trafficking.

Case highlights from Hebner’s career include covert investigations of illegal fishing and black market sales of steelhead and salmon that resulted in the successful prosecution of more than three dozen commercial fishermen and fish buying businesses.  He completed investigations that protected wildlife resources within and beyond the State’s borders, closing cases that involved such crimes as illegal big-horn sheep hunting, violations of the Federal Airborne Hunting Act, trafficking in wildlife parts, spree killing, and illegal guiding in five Western States and Canada.

Hebner was also recognized for his efforts to develop and implement a landmark hunting management agreement with the more than 23 Point Elliott Treaty Tribes – an agreement that improved co-management of wildlife resources in the State within the context of tribal culture and customs.

Consistently innovative, Hebner introduced the use of Karelian bear dogs to manage bear complaints and help modify bear behavior in Washington, utilizing staff, community volunteers, and public donations.  This program, the first of its kind in the lower 48, contributes to both public safety and bear conservation.

A nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation sustains, restores and enhances the Nation's fish and wildlife. By teaming leadership conservation investments with those of public and private partners, the Foundation maximizes measurable conservation benefits. Since its establishment, the Foundation has awarded 10,800 grants to more than 3,700 organizations in the United States and abroad, while leveraging more than $635 million in federal funds into $1.5 billion for conservation. For more information, visit

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