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Brown pelican feeding frenzy during BP oil spill response off Queen Bess Island, LA. Photo by Tom MacKenzie USFWS.

Environmental contaminants

Pollution is one of America’s greatest environmental concerns. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the primary federal agency dedicated to protecting wildlife and their habitats from pollution’s harmful effects.

What we do

The Service’s Louisiana environmental contaminants coordinator works with industry, as well as state and federal agencies, to ensure wildlife can co-exist with natural resource development as well as agriculture, forestry, and transportation activities. We are involved in:

  • Oil and chemical spill response;
  • Providing technical support;
  • Restoring habitats injured by pollution through the National Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program;
  • Conducting environmental investigations.

Oil and chemical spill response

When an oil or chemical spill occurs, the coordinator responds to protect our nation’s natural resources. During a spill incident, we provide technical expertise to the federal on-scene coordinator to minimize impacts to threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, certain marine mammals, freshwater fish, and their supporting habitat. We also oversee the collection and rehabilitation of oiled and injured wildlife. To ensure a successful and coordinated response effort, we regularly participate in spill response contingency planning and multi-agency response exercises with local, state and other federal agencies, and with industry.

For more information on oil and chemical spill response or to report a spill, visit the Service’s Environmental Contaminants Program, National Response Center, EPA, and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Technical support

We provide environmental contaminants expertise to all Service programs, including the National Wildlife Refuge System, Endangered Species, Migratory Birds, Fisheries, Marine Mammals, and Law Enforcement. Our contaminant coordinator works with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, and other federal and state agencies responsible for cleaning up contaminated sites by providing information on sensitive resources and recommendations to ensure that the cleanups protect natural resources for the continuing benefit of the public. We also provide information on the effects of different contaminants (metals, petroleum products, pesticides and other organic compounds) and assist in evaluating risks and fate of those contaminants to fish and wildlife resources.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment & Restoration (NRDAR)

The NRDAR process is used by our contaminant biologists to determine the amount of restoration needed to restore the habitats and resources back to the condition they would have been like had the contaminants not been released and to compensate the public for the lost use and enjoyment of their natural resources.

For more information on the NRDAR process, visit the Department of Interior’s NRDAR Homepage.

Environmental investigations

Contaminant biologists design and conduct investigations to identify and quantify impacts to fish and wildlife resources. The investigations can result in specific management recommendations to prevent, reduce, or eliminate these impacts. Investigations are based on scientific designs reviewed through a peer review process. Finished reports are then made available to the public and other governmental agencies.


Brigette Firmin, Coastal Restoration & NRDAR Biologist, (337) 291-3108

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