WGF wildlife forensic work earns national kudos
by Wyoming Game & Fish Department
October 10, 2005
The Wyoming Game and Fish Departmentís Laboratory in Laramie has earned national recognition for its work in helping solve wildlife-related crimes. The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies honored the lab with its Conservation Law Enforcement Award at the organizationís annual meeting in Nashville, according to a Wyoming Game & Fish news release.
The labís staff regularly performs a variety of laboratory tests and analyses that help investigators build cases to prosecute suspected wildlife criminals. These include examining microscopic hair fibers and using enzyme analysis on blood and tissue samples to determine species, as well as extracting and amplifying DNA from blood and tissue samples for gender assessment, and DNA microsatellites to determine if samples originated from the same animal and the minimum number of animals present.
The labís cutting-edge forensic work has earned respect across the nation. A number of other state wildlife agencies, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, regularly rely on the Wyoming Game and Fish Departmentís lab for forensic analysis. In fiscal year 2005, the lab staff performed a total of 10,643 tests on 725 forensic samples as part of 95 law enforcement cases. Laboratory forensic testing results were used by investigating officers to help obtain (including pending fines and restitution) a minimum of $224,339 in fines and restitution.
"This national honor is well deserved," said Jay Lawson, the Game and Fish Departmentís wildlife chief. "The lab staffís abilities, absolutely reliable results, and expedient analyses provide vital assistance to a broad spectrum of wildlife law enforcement and management projects. Above that, their positive outlook and relentless efforts make our jobs as wildlife officers easer."
"It was a surprise and an honor to be recognized in this manner," said Forensic Specialist DeeDee Hawk, who accepted the award. "Forensic Analyst Kim Sargeant and I take great pride in our ability to assist law enforcement officers in making a case, and we are continuously looking for more avenues to better assist our officers and protect the resource. Of course none of this would be possible without the continued support from staff, the officers utilizing the laboratory and the biologists who collect our databases of known standards. It is truly a team effort and we would like to thank all those who have assisted our efforts over the years."