Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

March 26, 2010


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

Retired Special Agent Steven D. Middleton, who conducted and supervised U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement operations in four different parts of the country over the course of his career, and Sgt. Michael L. Borkovich, a longtime conservation officer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, have been selected to receive the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s 2009 Guy Bradley Award for wildlife law enforcement.

Both recipients were honored during the 75th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on March 25, 2010. The Guy Bradley Award is named after the first wildlife law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in 1905 and is presented each year by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to recognize individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to wildlife law enforcement.

“We’re honored to present the Guy Bradley Award to Special Agent Middleton and Sgt. Borkovich in recognition of their outstanding service 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.

“We join the Foundation in applauding the accomplishments of these men, who together have spent more than half a century on the frontlines of wildlife conservation,” said Service Acting Director Rowan Gould. “Their work and the work of wildlife enforcement officers across this country truly make a difference for wildlife.”

Middleton, who started his career with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and then worked as a Service criminal investigator for two decades, is being honored for his success in safeguarding wildlife from illegal commercialization and supporting the recovery of endangered species. He is also being recognized for his accomplishments in managing Service law enforcement operations for the benefit of wildlife resources.

As a field agent in Michigan, Middleton used innovative techniques to curb illegal waterfowl hunting and went undercover to document black market trafficking in bear parts and ginseng. While stationed in Hawaii, he exposed illegal harvest and sale of corals as well as unlawful exploitation of sea turtles and sea turtle eggs. His work in training State and territorial officers in the Pacific helped improve enforcement infrastructure and protections for these and other marine resources.

As a supervisor for the Service law enforcement program in Arizona in the mid to late 1990s, Middleton worked effectively with State and tribal agencies and local communities to support the reintroduction of wolves and condors in the Southwest. From 2001 through his retirement in 2009, he managed Service enforcement operations in Tennessee and Kentucky, launching wildlife trade inspection operations at two major international express shipment “hubs” and directing investigations that exposed large-scale trafficking in ginseng and freshwater mussels as well as pesticide misuse, wildlife poisonings, and habitat destruction.

Borkovich, who started his law enforcement career as a State park ranger, has served as a Michigan conservation officer since 1984. He is being honored by the Foundation for his contributions to protecting the State’s wildlife, wildlife habitat, and park resources and for his commitment to conserving wildlife, serving the community, and helping his fellow officers.

A well-respected officer whose area of patrol in Leelanau County, Michigan, features abundant natural resources and includes Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Borkovich has excelled in enforcing State regulations protecting game and other species as well as in working effectively with State and Federal counterparts, including National Park Service rangers. His accomplishments include improving public understanding of, and compliance with, wildlife laws; promoting hunter safety and sportsmanship; and securing community support for resource management programs and other efforts to enhance both conservation and sporting opportunities.

Borkovich is also being recognized for his career-long willingness to go beyond basic job requirements to help other officers in the field, in the classroom, and on the firing range. He routinely assists Park Service rangers with both wildlife enforcement and search and rescue operations. A long-time firearms and defensive tactics instructor, Borkovich has served as a field training officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources since 1985 and has taught new recruits at that agency’s officer training academy since 1987.

A nonprofit established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) sustains, restores and enhances the nations fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Since its establishment, the Foundation has awarded nearly 10,500 grants to more than 3,000 organizations in the United States and abroad and leveraged - with its partners - nearly $600 million in federal funds into more than $1.4 billion for on-the-ground conservation. For more information, visit /

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