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 Wildlife forensic science

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PostSubject: Wildlife forensic science   Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:26 am

Wildlife forensic science is the application of a range of scientific disciplines to legal cases involving non-human biological evidence. These disciplines include genetics, morphology, chemistry, pathology, and veterinary sciences. Although some of these disciplines are also used to investigate human crime (see Forensic science), wildlife forensic science requires its own specialized skills and techniques. The diverse array of wildlife forensic practitioners’ disciplines worldwide is represented in the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (SWFS).
Wildlife forensic cases often involve the taking of protected plant and animal species for the illegal wildlife trade, poaching of trophy and game animals, and wildlife mortality caused by oil spills. Other examples include animal cruelty, bio-terrorism, and the analysis of animal hairs and other trace evidence in human crimes such as burglary, rape, and homicide.
Wildlife forensic scientists must develop and validate the tools to identify an increasing variety of species and apply them in a manner that will withstand judicial scrutiny. These analysts are commonly called upon to perform species identification, cause of death determination, the identification of pesticides and poisons, and to link individual animals to wildlife crime scenes.
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PostSubject: Re: Wildlife forensic science   Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:27 am

Wildlife forensic laboratories and organizations

In the United States, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a number of state agencies maintain forensic laboratories dedicated to wildlife crimes, providing analytical services and expert witness testimony. The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory of the US Fish and Wildlife Service also acts as the designated analytical facility for the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
With the initiative of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (SWFS), the Scientific Working Group for Wildlife Forensic Sciences (SWGWILD) was formed in 2011. SWGWILD brings together wildlife forensic science experts to standardize and promulgate best practices across the diverse species and evidence types unique to this field. SWGWILD complements the activities of the other US Scientific Working Groups in Forensic Sciences, which are supported by the National Institute of Justice and the FBI. SWGWILD provides representation of forensic issues that are unique to this field, particularly DNA and morphological analysis of non-human evidence.
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PostSubject: Re: Wildlife forensic science   Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:28 am

Scope of wildlife forensics

The variety of evidence in wildlife forensic cases is vast, potentially encompassing the entire biodiversity of the planet. It can range from a van full of boots made from the hides of endangered sea turtles, to shipments of elephant tusks, coral jewelry, and shark fins, to trophy elk, oil-soaked birds, wild ginseng, or blood from a dog fighting pit. In cases of seafood fraud, evidence can consist of an entire vessel-load of frozen fish. Wildlife forensic science deals with activities – including illegal traffic in protected wildlife, illegal, unregulated, and unreported fisheries, and the illegal timber trade – whose potential value has been estimated to total up to $50 billion a year. Taken together, these activities comprise the third largest form of illegal international trade, after drugs and weapons.
While animals and plants are the victims in the crimes of illegal wildlife trade and animal abuse, society also pays a heavy price when those crimes are used to fund illegal drugs, weapons and terrorism. Links between human trafficking, public corruption and illegal fishing have also been reported. The continued development and integration of wildlife forensic science as a field will be critical for successful management of the many significant social and conservation issues related to the illegal wildlife trade and wildlife law enforcement.
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