Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Dorothy “Dede” Manera received the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) 2022 Guy Bradley Award. Named in honor of Guy Bradley, the first wildlife law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in 1905, the award is presented to one state and one federal recipient “to recognize extraordinary individuals who have made an outstanding lifetime contribution to wildlife law enforcement, wildlife forensics or investigative techniques.” Making this award even more impressive, Manera is the first female to receive the Guy Bradley federal award since this national award program was established in 1988.
"Dede Manera exhibits the highest level of professionalism and has served as an outstanding leader in conservation law enforcement throughout her career,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Determined, masterful criminal investigators such as Manera are true champions of conservation, going above and beyond to protect wildlife species being unlawfully exploited both here in the United States and abroad,” Trandahl said.
“Resident Agent in Charge Dede Manera is a distinguished leader who is committed to protecting imperiled species for future generations,” said Edward Grace, Assistant Director of our Office of Law Enforcement (OLE). “Her exemplary professionalism, dedication to wildlife conservation, and tenacity to overcome any challenge makes her the ideal recipient of this prestigious award. We are incredibly proud of her and her work.”
Manera began her law enforcement career as a Service special agent in 1992 and, ever since, has been a role model of what an exceptional agent could be. Relentless in bringing the world’s most notorious wildlife traffickers to justice, she keeps working a case until that person faces their day in court. For example, during one of our most successful investigations, Operation Crash, she led an international lure-and-arrest operation against a Chinese national living in China. Due to her expertise and investigative skills, the trafficker was arrested, tried in New Jersey, and sentenced to 70 months in a U.S. federal prison – one of the most significant wildlife crime sentences at the time. In addition to actually investigating wildlife crimes, Manera is the resident agent in charge of our elite Special Investigations Unit, where she supervises covert agents who conduct complex, large-scale criminal investigations into the dark and dangerous world of wildlife trafficking. In particular, they investigate and infiltrate transnational organized criminals and entities who traffic endangered wildlife.
Manera has received numerous awards throughout her outstanding career including twice winning the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Association’s Officer of the Year Award; the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey’s Women & Wildlife Service Award; and the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America, People’s Choice Award, which is considered the “Oscar” of government service.
“I am honored to be the recipient of this significant and coveted award,” Manera said. “I thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, OLE leadership, everyone who mentored me throughout my career, and especially my family. I would also like to thank those who told me that something could not be done. Even negativism may be turned into something positive because it drove me to overcome obstacles that resulted in success over time. I believe in the power of paying it forward and I tell those I mentor to be persistent, don’t give up, and never take no for an answer. If you want to initiate changes that support and preserve wildlife, you have to be dedicated, work hard, and inspire others who will carry on when you are no longer around.”
There is also a $2,500 monetary award, which Manera has donated to New Jersey’s Downe Township Green Team. In 2019, the township formed a group of volunteers who perform a variety of environmental work in this local community by the Delaware Bay. The area is rich in natural resources and a location for horseshoe crab spawning and shorebird migration. This group of volunteers is very active in the community working to help wildlife and educate residents and visitors about the importance of the ecosystem and natural resources.
Meghan Wren, chairperson for the Downe Township Green Team has previously worked with Manera on wildlife projects. She describes Manera as being passionate, knowledgeable, and extremely skilled in everything she undertakes but particularly when it comes to protecting wildlife.
“I have always respected Dede’s work ethic and was thrilled to hear that she had won this national award,” said Wren. “I am touched that she chose our volunteer team to receive the generous monetary award. We plan to use the funds to create educational signage in support of our horseshoe crab and shorebird initiatives.”
We are incredibly proud of Manera and thank the NFWF for their work in conservation and the Guy Bradley award.