CSI: Animal KingdomCan DNA evidence prove that a walrus was poached? Who is responsible for taking down illegal caviar traffickers? A scientist from an animal forensics lab in the U.S. and a National Fish and Wildlife special agent talk about busting crimes against non-human species.
Diamonds, guns, slaves and drugs may be the billion dollar black markets that we hear about, but animal trafficking is the third most lucrative criminal activity in the world. Illegal animal brokers and merchants are notoriously difficult to track down, but one Oregon crime lab has devoted itself entirely to the cause.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory is the first and only forensics lab in the world dedicated just to animals. It’s dealt with more than 10,000 cases from all over the world in the past twenty years. Journalist Laurel Neme followed some of the poachers, processes and prosecutions in her new book Animal Investigators.
Catching California’s poachers can be tough since so few game wardens patrol such a vast stretches of wilderness. So officials are trying something new. In a scene straight out of a television CSI crime show, game wardens and scientists are using DNA analysis and other high-tech measures to protect California’s wildlife. KQED’s David Gorn reports. Click here to listen at the Public Radio Exchange.
(Photo by Steve Stevens via Flickr/Creative Commons)
Wildlife smuggling is a $20 billion-a-year business and the third-largest illegal trade worldwide. Dr. Laurel Neme is an international resource management consultant who lives in Huntington, Vermont. She's just written a book about the world's first and only CSI lab for wildlife, the Clark R. Bavin U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon.
We'll talk with Neme about the emerging science of animal forensics -- in which investigators must distinguish from among 30,000 species, often with only a few hairs, a bit of blood or powdered remains as clues.
We'll also hear from Col. David LeCours, Director of Law Enforcement for Vermont Fish and Wildlife, about how the demand for rare animals impacts our region. And we'll learn what we can do to discourage the illegal trade in protected animals.