Regional Supervisor Wildlife Inspector Eva Lara
Regional Headquarters, Atlanta, Georgia

“Women must work hard and be persistent. The past generations of women in the workforce did it for us and we have to continue the work for future generations.  In addition, women are highly intuitive and that is a skill that transcends into law enforcement very well,” Regional Supervisor Wildlife Inspector Eva Lara.

What is your primary work focus?
I am honored to serve as the first regional supervisory wildlife inspector for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement in the Southeast Region. My duties include overseeing wildlife inspection port office programs that are located at 11 separate ports within the Southeast United States; manage highly complex inspection best practices, legal wildlife trade compliance, and policy issues; and provide leadership to the qualified wildlife inspectors and support staff who enforce federal and state wildlife laws and regulations and international treaties, while combating the illegal wildlife trade.

Why do you believe your job makes a positive difference?
The Wildlife Inspection Program (WIP) focuses on facilitating the legal wildlife trade and interdicting wildlife and wildlife items that are being trafficked in the illegal trade. I enjoy seeing the positive effect we have on honest companies - we help them navigate federal regulations and gain compliance and by doing so, it enables the companies to make a profit and grow.

I also see how important it is to stop the illegal trade because not only are the world’s endangered and threatened wildlife in jeopardy of extinction, but also many of our nation’s wildlife and plant species are too.  Exposing and closing key spots used for wildlife trafficking routes and stopping injurious and invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
from entering our country is where the inspection program specializes and excels.  We are on the front lines as the leading agency for inspecting and enforcing wildlife regulations at the border and helping to keep the American public safe.

What was your career path that brought you to the Service?
As a child, I was drawn to protecting the marine environment growing up in South Florida and scuba diving before I could drive. I thought a marine biologist, exotic animal veterinarian, or environmental law were the only career paths available to working in marine conservation. I took a CITES course while studying at my university.  One day, a wildlife inspector spoke to my class and explained the importance of their work and the mission of the Service - I was captivated. The duties of a wildlife inspector incorporated protecting animals and the types of animals and enforcement efforts seemed limitless.  I worked as a volunteer every Friday processing manatee violations and then was hired as an evidence custodian.  After applying 10 times to become a wildlife inspector, I was hired.  After several years in the field, I was promoted to be the supervisor at the Port of Miami and only had to apply once to become the OLE’s first regional supervisor wildlife inspector, which is an amazing job!

What are you most proud of? 
The development of the program is my highest reward. I love to help newly hired staff to see the potential of the Service and of the WIP.  I have also found endless energy by evaluating the program to interdict illegal wildlife in the fight against wildlife trafficking in order to conserver wildlife species. We have experts in the field all over the nation and it is exciting what we have done and what we can do in the future.

What advice would you give to a young woman who is thinking about pursuing a career in wildlife law enforcement?
Be persistent. If you are interested in this field, reach out to your local offices and learn as much as you can to become competitive in any position you would like to pursue. In addition, women are highly intuitive and that is a skill that transcends into law enforcement very well. It is important to remember also you are constantly learning. I learn as much from someone who has worked with the Service for 30 years as someone who has worked for the service for 30 days. If I listen to their experiences, questions, and concerns, I learn.

How does the danger of your job affect your loved ones?
My family is very supportive and understands that always being aware of your surroundings is important.  I feel that the training I receive gives them a sense of comfort and understanding that we are prepared for the work that we do.

What challenges did you overcome to get where you are today?
My biggest obstacle is having patience. I have learned that with patience you gain the strength of will to navigate obstacles and challenges that you face at work. Patience is essential because there will be problems. There will situations that frustrate you. If you are patient, you stay focused on doing the work and you overcome your obstacles.

- Written by Regional Supervisor Wildlife Inspector Eva Lara, OLE Comms Teams

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