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Two Service employees investigate a bag for illegal wildlife parts.
Information icon Role-playing an inspection for illegal wildlife products. Photo by Bob Herndon, USFWS.

Service’s Kentucky offices hold annual meeting

Employees from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices in Kentucky met in Louisville, Kentucky, in February for their annual meeting that provides updates about projects throughout the Commonwealth. The meeting allows Kentucky offices an opportunity to highlight their successes from the previous year. The connections formed from the meeting produce year-long interaction and involvement among the offices.

Represented at the meeting were the Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office, Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, and the Office of Law Enforcement, Port of Louisville.

Last year, the Kentucky Ecological Services spearheaded the removal of the Green River Lock and Dam 6; completed a Species Status Assessment for the blackfin sucker and five-year reviews for the orangefoot pimpleback mussel, fanshell mussel, and Short’s goldenrod; and restored native habitats in the Terrapin Barrens.

Personnel from Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge updated the group on the formation of the Riverlands Alliance, a partnership of government, community organizations, and businesses to sustain outdoor heritage in western Kentucky and Tennessee. They also discussed the Wildlife Heritage and Outdoor Festival, an event that celebrated regional diversity of wildlife activities in western Kentucky; and their Solar Eclipse celebration.

Representatives from Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery reported that they produced 282,000 pounds of fish in 2017 and helped 24 schools raise Trout in the Classroom. They also successfully propagated endangered Cumberlandian combshell, pink mucket, and Cumberland bean freshwater mussels.

The Wildlife Inspectors from the Office of Law Enforcement processed more than 20,000 declared shipments in 2017, as well as inspected 6,000 international shipments suspected of containing wildlife products, including bush meat, fur products, and live wildlife.

After a brief presentation from each duty station, attendees travelled to a local DHL warehouse, where employees were invited to participate in practical exercises that showcased several scenarios Wildlife Inspector might encounter on the job: vehicle inspections, passenger inspections, and package inspections.

While role playing as Wildlife Inspectors, some employees were tasked with examining shipments for protected wildlife products, diving into the unknown as they carefully examined each item in the boxes. Others participated in mock scenarios, discovering tightly-packed tarantulas, smuggled snakes, improperly-identified furs, and hidden ivory.

Following an action-packed afternoon, employees departed with an appreciation for the great work Service offices are doing throughout the state. The annual showcase of projects allows increased intra-agency collaboration and communication between Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Service offices and furthers a one-Service approach to wildlife conservation in the Commonwealth. Next year’s meeting, hosted by Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, will be a highly-anticipated event.

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