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Wildlife Forensics & Mammal Hair, Michael Gonzalez

Michael Gonzalez discusses wildlife forensics and mammal hair. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how hair varies—between species and even on the same animal—and how he is developing a database of mammal hair that can be used by wildlife forensic scientists to identify hair in cases of illegal trafficking of the world’s most endangered animals. Michael Gonzalez is a forensic science master’s student at California State University in Fresno. Under the direction of his faculty mentor, Dr. Kevin Miller, assistant professor of chemistry and criminology at Fresno State and director of the Forensic Science master’s program, Gonzalez began creating and compiling the database from hair specimens found in the collection of Fresno State’s Biology Department. This work quickly spread to include eight different body regions of each animal and is being conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon. This internet-based database will ultimately hold more than 2,000 mammal species and has already become well known in the professional forensic world, including the prestigious National Institute of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In fact, Gonzalez received the 2010 Wildlife Forensic Science award from the Society for Wildlife Forensic Sciences (SWFS) for outstanding thesis work. (First aired on July 5, 2010)

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