Law Enforcement

Refuge law enforcement officer and fisherman - USFWS.

Refuge Law Enforcement Mission

"Fulfillment of the Service's conservation mission requires the effective enforcement of wildlife protection laws both on Service lands and the country at large." — Dale Hall, former Director

Protecting resources and people on our refuges is the fundamental responsibility of refuge officers. The mission of the Refuge Law Enforcement Program is to support the administration of the National Wildlife Refuge System through the management and protection of natural, historic and cultural resources, property, and people on lands and waters of our national wildlife refuges.

Refuge Law Enforcement Objectives

Law enforcement is an integral part of managing the National Wildlife Refuge System. Refuge law enforcement officers are responsible for upholding federal laws and regulations that protect natural resources, the public, and employees. These are our objectives.

  • To protect refuge visitors and employees from disturbance or harm by others.
  • To assist visitors in understanding refuge laws, regulations, and the reasons for them.
  • To enhance the management and protection of fish and wildlife resources on refuges.
  • To ensure the legally prescribed, equitable use of fish and wildlife resources on refuges.
  • To obtain compliance with laws and regulations necessary for the proper administration, management, and protection of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Timely reporting of crimes is important to reducing crime on the refuge. When calling in a violation please remember to provide as much information as possible including, who, persons and vehicles involved, what happened and how, and when and where the crime took place. If you have a camera available and it is safe to do so please take a picture of the event and share it with us.

Please report all accidents, injuries and violations to Law Enforcement at 301-497-5747 or email at In case of an emergency call 911 or for wildlife related crimes call the Maryland DNR at 1-877-620-8367.

Law enforcement at Patuxent Research Refuge helps visitors enjoy the refuge and understand and obey wildlife and resource protection laws. Officers also play a key role in the successful management of refuge lands and maintaining high quality visitor experiences.

For questions about refuge rules and regulations please call 301-497-5809.