National Police Week: Recognizing Officer John Ross

As we celebrate National Police Week, we want to give a shout out to John Ross who was recently recognized as the Service’s regional Federal Wildlife Officer of the Year. Ross, like his peers, enforces laws to keep refuge visitors safe and to protect wildlife. He is the first law enforcement officer to receive this regional recognition twice.

Ross has worked at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for 12 of his 19 years of service. The refuge spans 112,928 acres in Virginia and North Carolina, and, in addition to covering that area, he covers law enforcement needs at three other refuges in the region. Ross began his career at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, one of the country’s most visited refuges.

Map of Great Dismal Swamp NWR

Known for his team spirit and his ability to bring people together, Ross sets an “example of helping everyone on the staff with everything such as maintenance, visitor services, fire, forestry, and biological programs, all while maintaining the integrity of his own program.” said a colleague nominating Ross for the award.

Regional Chief of Refuge Law Enforcement, Gary Andres says Ross is an exemplary officer with the exceptional ability to work well with others, including his team. Ross’ duties are diverse and include training new officers entering the field from the police academy, serving as a critical incident stress mentor, working with state game wardens and other Service law enforcement agents on cases, running the refuge’s deer hunt, and many other things.

Congratulations, Officer Ross! And a special thank you to our regional law enforcement officers this National Police Week and every day.


Animal encounters come with the territory when you’re a federal wildlife officer. One day Officer Ross was called upon to move a rattlesnake from a trash can, where it had found a warm spot to curl up. He secured the snake and put it in the backseat of his car. A little while later as he was driving, he saw in his rear view mirror that the snake was escaping the cage. Some quick thinking and a blast of the AC, and the snake retreated for the rest of the ride. In addition to snakes, Ross has moved alligators to more remote locations.

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