Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8316
Title: Wildlife Forensics: An Overview and Update for the Prosecutor
Author: M. K. Burnham-Curtis, P. W. Trail, R. Kagan, M. Katherine Moore
Publication Year: 2015
Journal: United States Attorneys Bulletin
Volume: 63
Issue: 3
Pages: 53-69
Keywords: forensics,Wildlife,fisheries,enforcement,standardization

 Proving criminal violations that involve the poaching, smuggling, or illegal commercialization of wildlife often requires scientific testing and testimony regarding the species, cause of death, or correlation between tissue and the seized item. Such testing and testimony is usually conducted by scientists and laboratories that specialize in this area of forensic analysis. As in human-victim cases, wildlife forensic analysis may involve genetics, morphology, chemistry, and pathology. The requirements of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), are equally applicable in trials of wildlife crime. However, the prosecutor wishing to maximize the chances for a successful outcome must be aware of the factors affecting the types of analyses that can be conducted in wildlife cases so that relevant, effective testing is performed and admissible, unbiased expert testimony results.


 Summary of capabilities and challenges in wildlife forensic sciences, aimed at federal prosecutors.

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Theme: Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
Foci: Describe the relationships between human activities and species recovery, rebuilding and sustainability.