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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Jim Gale Honored with Prestigious National Law Enforcement Award

March 22, 2019

Contact(s):

Brian Hires, brian_hires@fws.gov, (703) 358-2191



Special Agent in Charge (SAC), James R. Gale, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), was honored today as the federal recipient of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s 2019 Guy Bradley Award.

The Service’s Deputy Director of Operations, Jim Kurth, and Assistant Director of OLE, Edward Grace, joined Amanda Bassow, Director of the Northeastern Regional Office of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in presenting the award to Gale at a ceremony at the Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

In 1905, Guy Bradley was the first wildlife officer killed in the line of duty. In his honor, NFWF annually presents this prestigious award to one state and one federal recipient, “to recognize extraordinary individuals who have made an outstanding lifetime contribution to wildlife law enforcement, wildlife forensics or investigative techniques.” 

“Effective conservation of wildlife depends in large part on the leadership and professionalism of wildlife law enforcement officers such as SAC Jim Gale,” said Executive Director and CEO of NFWF, Jeff Trandahl. “Jim’s tireless efforts to develop increasingly advanced enforcement capabilities at the federal level will leave a lasting legacy for conservation in the United States and abroad.”

“We join the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in applauding Jim’s accomplishments as a leader in wildlife crime investigations,” said OLE’s Assistant Director, Edward Grace. “He has over 33 years of professional excellence and this award exemplifies his dedication to investigating and combating wildlife crime.”

Gale began his law enforcement career as a county park ranger in 1985. He then joined the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as a game warden and became a special agent with the Service in 1992. This background provided a foundation of working collaboratively with local, state and federal partners to investigate wildlife crime, an understanding he carried with him throughout his career. 

The Service’s Office of Law Enforcement is a world leader in the fight against wildlife trafficking, and Gale’s vision and leadership abilities greatly contributed to this recognition. He understood that wildlife crime is a global issue and it takes a global effort to fight it. Under his leadership, he oversaw the creation of, and led, the Special Operations Division. This highly advanced division is comprised of five units that provide training and investigative support to domestic and international wildlife crime officers. Also under his direction was Operation Crash, an award-winning investigation into rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory trafficking. It was because of this operation that transnational organized criminal syndicates were connected directly to wildlife crime.  

Jim has received numerous awards throughout his outstanding career including the Department of the Interior’s Distinguished Service Award and the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America, People’s Choice Award.  

“I could not be more proud than to be awarded the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s highest award for achievements in wildlife law enforcement,” said Gale. “It is such an honor and the ultimate way to end my career.” 

Jim Gale retired from the Service in December of 2018. At that time, he served as OLE’s Acting Deputy Assistant Director and was the Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division.

The award includes a $1,000 check, which Jim has donated to the Florida National Audubon Society in honor of Guy Bradley.

To learn more about the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, please visit: www.fws.gov/le.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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