What We Do

Training U.S. FWS Special Agents, Wildlife Inspectors, and Conservation Officers and our Domestic and Foreign Partners

The TDU is dedicated to supporting the FWS regions and the field with training requests, satisfying basic training needs of newly hired special agents and wildlife inspectors, providing advanced law enforcement training opportunities, conducting international training for peers, and conducting office compliance inspections. TDU supports field requests by providing training materials, instructors, and equipment to the OLE personnel in the 50 states and 8 foreign offices. We provide basic training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to all newly hired special agents and wildlife inspectors through the Criminal Investigator Training Program, Special Agent Basic School, Wildlife Inspector Basic School, and the Field Training & Evaluation Program.  These basic programs graduate between 12 and 50 special agents and wildlife inspectors annually. TDU also supports approximately 70 advanced training programs annually for OLE. 

Sharing the OLE’s knowledge, skills, and abilities with domestic and international counterparts is paramount in the fight against global wildlife crime. Over the last decade, the OLE/TDU has continued to expand its training mission. TDU now conducts nearly 50 international training missions annually at the six (6) International Law Enforcement Academies, and in host counties in Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, South America, and Central America.

Our Programs

International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) Programs

ILEA Programs Focus on Combating Wildlife Crimes

Currently, the TDU offers four programs in cooperation with the ILEAs. The courses are tailored to the variety of positions that have a role in combating wildlife trafficking.  Each course is taught by subject matter experts and designed to have approximately 40 delegates or participants. The courses highlight the techniques unique to different facets of conducting border inspections, conducting cyber and wildlife crime investigations, and developing laws and policies to improve prosecutions and deter wildlife trafficking crimes. Critical to each of these courses, and success in the field, is an emphasis on building networks to fight transnational wildlife criminals.

TDU's Current ILEA Curriculum

In cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the ILEAs, the TDU offers:

Wildlife Trafficking and Model Law-Executive Policy and Development Symposium on Transnational Crime

This two-week symposium focuses on building a comprehensive national response model for combating wildlife trafficking. This executive course hosts 40 delegates who are responsible for leading change, policy, and critical thinking in order to deter transnational organized crime syndicates and to build a law enforcement network that is needed to beat a criminal network.

Delegates gain essential skills in communication, critical thinking, and decision-making, which are vital when acting in a leadership role.  The curriculum includes topics such as criminal justice, investigations, and prosecuting wildlife criminals, all of which are explained in detail.

Service SMEs identify the latest policy guidelines, enforcement guidance, and legislative developments and outline statutes that have been developed to combat wildlife crimes. The symposium also provides the delegates with instruction on how wildlife traffickers and criminal trafficking organizations commit their crimes and the techniques, tools, and strategies needed to successfully investigate and prosecute wildlife traffickers.

The symposium explores the process of an investigation and prosecution to facilitate the understanding of the structures and strategies needed to effectively combat these crimes. The goal of this symposium is to teach the delegates how to effectively, and strategically, develop a comprehensive response to the difficulties of wildlife trafficking. An open forum with WTES alumni provides the opportunity to explore the successes with local contacts, Service SMEs, and their closest Service attaché.

Wildlife Border Inspection Training Program

The one-week curriculum is taught by Service and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection law enforcement officers and provided to approximately 40 participants.  It combines both classroom and practical field exercises blended in a way to provide an overview of inspection techniques, identification of trends, and how to identify illegal wildlife at the border.  Training includes the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), wildlife trade data, wildlife identification, case initiation and management, interview techniques, border interdiction, evidence processing, ethics, corruption, and the importance of court preparation.

Throughout the course, the delegates are shown the latest interdiction techniques used at U.S. (and the host nation’s) ports of entry and a variety of smuggling methods.  The instructors also encourage an active exchange of information and techniques between all participants in order to learn from each other and create effective procedures to fight wildlife trafficking. This open dialogue throughout the course provides the opportunity for host nations to gain insights on specific wildlife trafficking trends, faced by the participating countries, and are used to further secure their own borders.

In addition, the participants meet their closest Service attaché to begin a professional working relationship.  The attachés and the ILEA graduates create an alliance of host nations that share knowledge, skills, and intelligence.

Wildlife Trafficking Investigators Program

This two-week course provides an overview of various wildlife trafficking investigative topics, is presented twice a year, and seats up to 40 participants per session. The curriculum focuses on endangered species law; CITES wildlife trade data; wildlife identification; case initiation and management; digital evidence; forensics and crime scene processing; surveillance; undercover operations; money laundering; interviewing; ethics and corruptions; warrant execution; report writing, and court preparation.

The course emphasizes the importance of developing and maintaining global contacts to exchange intelligence between countries because this open dialogue provides the opportunity for host nations to gain insights on specific wildlife trafficking problems that are present in the participating countries. Instructors introduce and discuss techniques and methods available to combat specific wildlife investigative issues and provide an opportunity for the participants to meet their Service attaché, exchange contact information, and begin a professional relationship built upon trust. This exchange of intelligence and cooperation on investigations is crucial in combating international wildlife trafficking.

Wildlife Trafficking Cybercrime Program 

This one-week curriculum was created for investigators and computer experts and provides advanced cybercrime investigative topics related to wildlife trafficking.  Forty participants are taught the latest techniques to document digital evidence; crime scene processing; online undercover operation considerations; and e-mail, social media, and online marketplace investigations.

The course provides investigatory strategies to identify, prove, or disprove wildlife crimes using cybercrime detection tools and techniques.  Instructors encourage an open dialogue throughout the course so participants may gain insights on their own specific wildlife cybercrime issues and offer techniques and methods to combat those investigative challenges, ultimately so that participants may use these skills to solve cyber wildlife crimes.