National Fish and Wildlife FORENSICS LABORATORY
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Welcome to the world's first national and international wildlife forensics crime lab! The Clark R. Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory is located in Ashland, Oregon, in a modern 23,000 square-foot concrete and glass facility. Dedicated in July of 1989, the lab was created for the purpose of providing forensic support to wildlife law enforcement officers and agencies within the United States and throughout the world. The Lab Mission: Identify the species or subspecies of pieces, parts or products of an animal. Determine the cause-of-death of an animal. Help wildlife officers determine if a violation of law has occurred. Identify and compare physical evidence in an attempt to link suspect, victim and crime scene. In order to accomplish our assigned mission, and to meet the forensic needs of wildlife law enforcement officers at the federal, state and international levels, the lab's forensic specialists will conduct crime scene investigations, examine submitted items of evidence, and provide expert witness testimony in court. They do so much like their counterparts in a police crime lab. We are located in Ashland, Oregon about 20 miles north of the Northern California border in the southwest corner of the state. Our 23,000 square foot facility was dedicated in July of 1989 and there are currently 28 full time employees, several volunteers and a couple hundred dermestid beetles. What Really Goes on in a Wildlife Crime Lab.....? Well, first of all, pretty much the same thing that goes on in a regular crime lab. But in case you're still curious, all crime labs---whether they are police or wildlife oriented---do two things: They examine, identify, and compare evidence items using a wide range of scientific procedures and instruments... And in a triangular manner, they attempt to link suspect, victim and crime scene with physical evidence. The only real difference between our wildlife crime lab, and a 'typical' police crime lab is that our victim is an animal. And we must keep in mind that, every now and then, our suspect will turn out to be an animal also. For obvious reasons, it's important that we not confuse the natural events of 'Mother Nature'---one animal killing another for food or territory---with human violations of wildlife laws. Examples of evidence items that are sent to us for examination: blood samples (ideally, in a fresh or dried condition) tissue samples (same as above, only include frozen) whole carcasses (same as the above, except we're rarely that lucky) bones teeth claws talons tusks hair hides furs feathers leather goods (purses, shoes, boots...) poisons pesticides stomach contents (uh huh) projectiles (bullets, arrows...) weapons (rifles, bows, traps....) Asian medicinals (rhino horn pills, tiger bone juice...) And pretty much anything else you might imagine that could have come from (or been made from) an animal.