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Louisiana black bear cubs. Photo by Brad Young, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Debbie Fuller: working hard at work worth doing

Debbie fuller holding a Louisiana black bear cub
The Service’s Debbie Fuller holding a Louisiana black bear cub and enjoying one of those moments that “makes all the paperwork worth it.” Photo by USFWS.

President Roosevelt, whose famous refusal to shoot a Louisiana black bear led to the creation of the toy “Teddy Bear,” held that “far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Debbie Fuller, the endangered species coordinator in the Service’s Louisiana Field Office, echoes that sentiment in discussing the work she has been doing since 2000 toward the recovery of the Louisiana black bear.

“I’m very blessed to be able to do this job,” said Fuller. “Even though it’s nothing glorious – lots of pushing paper… connecting this to that.”

Her colleagues say she played a key role in the logistical and contractual aspects (including securing necessary funds) of a comprehensive Louisiana black bear population viability and connectivity study published in 2014. That research provided vital information on the status of the bear population in Louisiana. Fuller also has been praised for coordinating a collaborative effort involving the Service and its partners to restore the species to unoccupied portions of its historical range.

“I’m the last stopping point,” Fuller continues, “to make sure we’re good with the policy and the regs (regulations) and the science.”

Fuller, however, modestly compares her work to the important, yet often overlooked, behind-the-scenes work of ordinary administrative assistants and secretaries.

Still, she’ll admit that her job does have some unusual perks.

“Every time you get to go out and hold a cub is a memorable moment, and I’ve been fortunate enough to do it several times,” she said. “One minute physically holding a cub — it’s what makes all the paperwork worth it.”

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. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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