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A Walk on the Wild Side of Forensics

Kathy Moore, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Marine Forensics Laboratory

28 September 2018

Forensic scientists on television always get “their man" in the end, fingering the perpetrator with irrefutable DNA evidence after a furious hour of work. But what about forensic science that is not focused on the “man,” Homo sapiens? Wildlife forensics is a maturing discipline that specializes in the remainder of the planet’s biodiversity, primarily to combat crimes such as poaching, illicit wildlife trade, mislabeling, animal cruelty, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. A broad overview of wildlife forensics will be presented, including the differences between forensic science and research, the types of questions asked, and the techniques commonly used to answer them. Cases from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Marine Forensic Laboratory in Charleston will be presented to illustrate the use of morphology and genetics to aid in the investigation of wildlife crimes.