"Science that applies medical facts to a legal problem" or CSI:Laramie. In this case, science is used to assist law enforcement personnel with implementing laws pertaining to hunting and fishing. Evidentiary items arrive in the laboratory and can be in the form of tissue from carcasses with missing heads, or arrows with blood, blood spots or antlers, etc. The lab will compare the different items by examination using very high tech procedures and instruments to determine the type of animal involved (mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk or moose, etc.), the gender of the animals involved and exactly how many different animals are represented by all the different items submitted. In short, the laboratory attempts to assist the law enforcement community to link suspect, victim (in this case, the poached animal) and the crime scene.
The Wyoming Game and Fish laboratory is one of the most advanced forensic laboratories in the country and can test samples from mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, pronghorn, mountain lion, mountain goat, bighorn sheep and turkey. The laboratory uses both proteins and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in the forensic section of the laboratory to answer the questions asked by the submitting law enforcement officer. The laboratory has been locally and nationally recognized for the use of these procedures. In 2003, the Wyoming Game Warden's Association awarded the lab the "Outstanding Assistance to Wyoming Wildlife Law Enforcement". In 2005, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies presented the forensic lab with the "Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Conservation Law Enforcement", and also in 2005, the Colorado Division of Wildlife Law Enforcement Unit gave the "Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty in Protecting Colorado's Wildlife Resources" award.
In 2005, investigating officers used laboratory forensic testing results to help obtain a minimum of $224,339 in fines and restitution. An example of one case involving thirteen items included: taking elk without proper license, failing to tag deer, failing to tag elk, and accessory to taking an elk without the proper license. The defendant that killed the elk and deer pled guilty and was fined $230.00 for killing the elk, $130.00 for failing to tag deer, $130.00 for failing to tag elk. He was ordered to pay restitution on the elk to the state in the amount of $6,000. He served 20 days in jail and all hunting/fishing/trapping privileges suspended for four years. The two charged as accessories pled guilty and were each fined $230.00. Total fines/restitution was $6,950.00. Below are examples of evidence received by the forensic lab.
Blood evidence on sticks and dirt
Blood evidence on different knives
Shoulder mount mule deer
Examples of the resources we are trying to protect
Additional types of evidence received in the lab for match comparison
Example of DNA analysis showing gender results