What We Do

Effective law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The OLE is the investigative arm of the Service tasked to investigate wildlife crimes, enforce wildlife laws, regulate wildlife trade, help Americans understand and obey wildlife protection laws, and work in partnership with international, federal, state, local, and tribal counterparts to conserve wildlife resources.

Examples of the OLE’s work includes:

  • Breaking up international and domestic trafficking rings that target imperiled animals
  • Preventing the unlawful commercial exploitation of protected U.S. species
  • Protecting wildlife from environmental hazards and safeguarding critical habitat for endangered species
  • Enforcing federal migratory game bird hunting regulations and working with states to protect other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities
  • Facilitating the legal wildlife trade and inspecting wildlife shipments to ensure compliance with laws and treaties
  • Interdicting illegal wildlife products and injurious species before entering or leaving the country
  • Working with international counterparts to combat illegal trafficking in protected species
  • Training other tribal, state, federal, and international law enforcement officers
  • Using forensic science to analyze evidence and solve wildlife crimes
  • Distributing information and outreach materials to increase public understanding of wildlife conservation and promote compliance with wildlife protection laws
  • Enforcing the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to investigate and arrest those who fraudulently produce or sell counterfeit American Indian and Alaskan Native art and craftwork

Our Laws and Regulations

The Antarctic Conservation Act provides for the conservation and protection of the fauna and flora of Antarctica, and their ecosystems.

The Archaeological Resources Protection Act provides for protection of archaeological resources and sites on public and Tribal lands and for increased cooperation between government authorities, the professional archaeological community, and private collectors with collections obtained before...

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c), enacted in 1940, and amended several times since, prohibits anyone, without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from "taking" bald or golden eagles, including their parts (including feathers), nests, or eggs....

The Endangered Species Act prohibits the import, export, or taking of fish and wildlife and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered species; provides for adding species to and removing them from the list of threatened and endangered species, and for preparing and implementing plans...

The Lacey Act, as amended in 1981, provides that the Secretary of the Interior designate injurious wildlife and ensure the humane treatment of wildlife shipped to the United States. Prohibits importation, exportation, transportation, sale, or purchase of fish and wildlife taken or possessed in...

The Marine Mammal Protection Act establishes a moratorium on taking and importing marine mammals, including parts and products. Defines the Federal responsibility for conservation of marine mammals, with management authority vested in the Department for the sea otter, walrus, polar bear, dugong...

The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, commonly referred to as the Duck Stamp Act, requires waterfowl hunters, 16 years of age or older, to purchase and possess a valid Federal waterfowl hunting stamp prior to taking migratory waterfowl. The Secretary of the Interior is...

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 implements four international conservation treaties that the U.S. entered into with Canada in 1916, Mexico in 1936, Japan in 1972, and Russia in 1976. It is intended to ensure the sustainability of populations of all protected migratory bird species....

The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act provides authority, guidelines and directives for the Service to improve the National Wildlife Refuge System; administers a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and restoration of fish, wildlife and plant...

The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act authorizes grants to other nations and to the CITES Secretariat for programs directly or indirectly assisting in the conservation of rhinoceros and tigers. Prohibits the sale, importation, and exportation of products derived from any species of...

The Wild Bird Conservation Act requires that all trade in wild birds involving the United States is biologically sustainable and to the benefit of the species and limits or prohibits imports of exotic birds when not beneficial to the species.

The African Elephant Conservation Act (original language) protects declining populations of African Elephants.  The law was enacted to assist with the conservation and protection of the African elephant by supporting conservation programs of African countries.  Additionally, the law...

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in the marketing of Indian art and craft products within the United States.  It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell, any art or craft product in a manner that falsely...