Wildlife forensic expert retires from Game and Fish

Dee Dee Hawk, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department forensic expert, is retiring after 35 years with the State of Wyoming, 27 of those with Game and Fish. 

2/1/2021 6:30:41 PM

Cheyenne - Dee Dee Hawk, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department forensic expert, is retiring after 35 years with the State of Wyoming, 27 of those with Game and Fish. 

Hawk spent her career building the Department’s Wildlife Forensics and Fish Health Laboratory program, and served 12 years as the lab director. The lab provides services to the Game and Fish and the public including fish health, tooth aging and wildlife forensics. Wyoming’s lab is considered one of the most advanced state laboratories in the country, and provides unbiased information to assist wildlife law enforcement to solve wildlife crimes, and conducts analysis for wildlife law enforcement in Wyoming. Other states can pay for analysis, the revenue helps offset the cost of equipment and reagents at the lab.

“When I started, I was just another eager scientist looking for an opportunity to make a difference with what I was most passionate about — wildlife and science. With the help of some great leaders in the Department, some amazing mentorships and several extremely talented team members, a wildlife forensic program was born,” Hawk said. “I’m especially proud to have been a part of that.”

In 2011, in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife forensic lab deputy director, Hawk created the Society for Wildlife Science (SWFS). She was the first president and held the role for five years and now serves as treasurer.  SWFS is now an international organization and has members from 18 countries.  The board is asked to participate in international endeavors to elevate the field of wildlife forensics. During this time, she was also a founding member of the Scientific Working Group for Wildlife Forensics. Hawk also considers SWFS to be one of her crowning achievements during her 27 years in the field of wildlife forensics, and she will continue to work with the group into retirement to further the discipline.

Hawk and the laboratory team spent years planning, including the design and building of a new laboratory, to meet standards necessary for a national accreditation process. The laboratory team started in earnest on the record keeping portion of the process in January 2020. In December, the laboratory team went through a very rigorous assessment process and in January of 2021 the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health was accredited by the American National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board as an ISO/IEC 17025 Testing Laboratory in fish health, wildlife forensics and tooth aging. The certification makes the lab among the elite. 

“The lab is one of only four wildlife forensic laboratories, the very first tooth aging laboratory and one of only a small number of fish health laboratories to be accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 standards,” Hawk said.

This accreditation is a major achievement for the department and the laboratory.

Hawk was appointed in 2018 as the chief of the department’s Services Division, overseeing the lab, Commission-owned lands, property and infrastructure throughout the state and information technology. 

Hawk was an established leader in the Game and Fish and recognized internationally for her work in wildlife forensics. Hawk graduated from both Game and Fish leadership programs in addition to the National Conservation Leadership Institute.

“Dee Dee is an inspiring scientist whose forensic analysis and program contributed to the successful conviction of countless wildlife violators throughout her career,” said Eric Wiltanger, Game and Fish chief of services. “Her work building the lab, and the expertise that provides the state, is invaluable to protecting the wildlife resource.”

In 2010, Hawk was awarded the Department's "Outstanding Leadership Award", and in 2013 she received the Boone and Crockett Club Award, through the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, in recognition of outstanding advocacy of outdoor ethics. Hawk is the recipient of the 2003 Support person of the year by the Wyoming Game Warden Association and 2005 Forensic team- Outstanding Achievement in the field of conservation law enforcement from the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, among many other accolades.

Hawk is retiring in Laramie.


(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))

- WGFD -

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