The Society for Wildlife Forensic Science was formed in November 2009 with the mission of developing wildlife forensic science into a comprehensive, integrated and mature discipline.
Wildlife forensic science is the application of a range of scientific disciplines to legal cases involving non-human biological evidence. These disciplines include genetics, morphology, chemistry, pathology, and veterinary sciences. The diverse array of wildlife forensic practitioners’ disciplines worldwide is represented in the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (SWFS).
Wildlife forensic cases often involve the taking of protected plant and animal species for the illegal wildlife trade, poaching of trophy and game animals, and wildlife mortality caused by oil spills. Other examples include animal cruelty, bio-terrorism, and the analysis of animal hairs and other trace evidence in human crimes such as burglary, rape, and homicide.
Wildlife forensic scientists must develop and validate the tools to identify an increasing variety of species and apply them in a manner that will withstand judicial scrutiny. These analysts are commonly called upon to perform species identification, cause of death determination, the identification of pesticides and poisons, and to link individual animals to wildlife crime scenes.
In the United States, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a number of state agencies maintain forensic laboratories dedicated to wildlife crimes, providing analytical services and expert witness testimony. The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory of the US Fish and Wildlife Service also acts as the designated analytical facility for the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Membership in the Society of Wildlife Forensic Science is international and open to those who will impact the wildlife forensics community. Members and the community will discover that the field of wildlife forensic science is ever expanding, and novel research is being conducted around the globe to find new procedures for identifying species, individuals and populations. The goal of protecting and conserving wildlife is shared by many and is an extraordinarily worthwhile pursuit.