About the Repository
The National Wildlife Property Repository (Repository) near Denver, Colorado is a unique facility which serves the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) by receiving and storing wildlife and wildlife products seized and forfeited during OLE’s investigation and inspection activities. No live wildlife is stored at the facility, but there are roughly 1.3 million items in inventory from whale products to rhino parts, mounted tigers to monkey skulls.
The species represented at the Repository are too numerous to list, but may be found as mounted specimens, tanned/untanned skins, skeletal remains, tourist curios (curiosities), and voluminous amounts of products derived from threatened or endangered species such as elephants, tigers, rhinos, sea turtles, Tibetan antelope, marine mammals, and many more. Despite the large inventory it is noteworthy that the items represented at the Repository only amount to a fraction of the volume of items involved in the unlawful wildlife trade.
The Repository receives property from OLE special agents and wildlife inspectors throughout the United States and U.S. Territories. Received items can then be shipped out for education programs, to further scientific research, and even aid current law enforcement investigations.
The National Wildlife Property Repository is housed in the same facility as the National Eagle Repository which serves to provide Native Americans with the feathers of golden and bald for religious and cultural purposes.
History of the Repository
Wildlife products from the Repository assist training K9 program officers and their partners. Credit: USFWS.
- Wildlife products from the Repository assist training K9 program officers and their partners. Credit: USFWS.
The National Wildlife Property Repository relocated from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon to Denver, Colorado in June 1995. The Forensics Lab was constructed in 1988 and by 1995 there were plans to expand the Lab for the inclusion of new technology and staff.
The ever expanding collection of wildlife property had surpassed the Lab's need for these items as standards. This excess, along with the increased demand for biofacts for educational, scientific, and law enforcement programs was using up valuable space and redirecting precious staff time to the business of running a repository. The property inventory was primarily managed by volunteers with oversight by Lab personnel.
In 1995, the Special Agent in Charge for the Mountain Prairie Region was directed to devise a plan to prepare and successfully transport the thousands of property items stored at the Lab to a central location within the Mountain Prairie region. Through successful partnering with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional leadership and the U.S. Army a suitable building was found at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal which has since transitioned from a super fund cleanup site to a premier urban national wildlife refuge near Denver, Colorado. With a small group of dedicated staff and volunteers and a small appropriation of funds the National Wildlife Property Repository and the National Eagle Repository opened in July 1995 at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.
In 2001 the Repository moved to its present building on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. In 2003 the Repository underwent renovation to include a large education room, modernized processing areas for both eagles and property and additional office space for staff expansion. Today the 22,000 square foot facility currently houses approximately 1.3 million wildlife property items.