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"Kim, I have heard about the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Forensics Laboratory. What kind of testing happens there?"

The Forensics Lab  in Laramie offers a service to law enforcement officers for testing evidentiary items collected in poaching cases. The forensic lab is unique because it can test mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, pronghorn, mountain lion, bobcat, black bear, grizzly bear, turkey, sage grouse, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat. Tests used to analyze suspected poaching cases include:

  • Species. Law enforcement officers collect and submit evidence like blood, meat, biological fluids, bones and hair. The lab performs a variety of protein, DNA and microscopic tests to determine the species of the submitted items.
  • Gender. Sometimes it is only necessary to determine the gender of the submitted item, like the difference between buck or doe deer. To determine the gender, lab personnel use DNA tests to determine if the sample came from a male or female.
  • Matching. The laboratory uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine if two or more pieces of evidence originated from the same animal or not.
  • Minimum number of animals.  As with matching, the lab can determine the minimum number of animals present in various evidentiary items.  For example, if the lab receives several different packages of meat from the same freezer, it is possible to determine the species and gender of the animal the meat originated from and also, determine how many animals of each species and gender are present.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Forensic lab has been offering this service to Wyoming law enforcement officers and many other states (on a contract basis) since 1994.  Currently, the forensic laboratory is doing wildlife forensics work for ten states including Wyoming.

Kim Frazier
Game and Fish Program Manager

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