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October 5, 2010

The HSUS Teams up with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to Combat Poaching

As part of its nationwide anti-poaching program, The Humane Society of the United States announced a new venture to support the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s efforts to fight wildlife crime. The collaboration includes a donation of high-tech equipment that will be used by the agency’s forensic lab to solve poaching cases with DNA evidence.

“Poachers are serious criminals that callously disregard wildlife protection laws. The Humane Society of the United States is very grateful for the tireless efforts of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers to crack down on this illegal activity,” said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The HSUS. “Science and technology can boost law enforcement’s capacity to apprehend these criminals and bring them to justice. We are thrilled to assist in that endeavor as part of our nationwide anti-poaching program.”

“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is committed to managing fish and wildlife resources,” said FWC Captain Rett Boyd. “The forensic equipment given by The Humane Society of the United States is extremely helpful in fulfilling our commitment and we would like to express our sincere appreciation for the generosity and support.”

The HSUS’ donation includes a forensic alternate light source, which will vastly improve the agency’s ability to comprehensively examine crime scene evidence. The HSUS also donated a high-intensity UV lamp and a photo documentation kit.

Poaching crimes are notoriously difficult to solve, as they are often committed in remote locations with no witnesses present. Law enforcement agencies like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are increasingly using cutting-edge forensic science to stay a step ahead of violators. In May, a Broward County alligator poaching case was solved when blood at the crime scene was matched to blood found in the perpetrator’s truck. 

In another Florida case, an officer received information that a female deer had been shot and skinned. Most of the animal’s body was left behind, but her hide had been taken to another location. Through diligence, tenacity and good detective work, the officer was able to secure both the animal’s hide and body. He submitted samples of those items to the FWC forensic lab, and DNA analysis found a positive match confirming that both belonged to the same animal. 

Background:

  • A forensic alternate light source helps in the detection of biological evidence.  Biological evidence is difficult to detect in metal items (e.g. arrow points, spear guns, firearms, knives), vegetation, dirt and shells. A light source with as many wavelengths as practical can greatly increase the ability to detect potential evidence, which increases an agency’s ability to successfully prosecute wildlife crimes.
  • A high-intensity UV lamp allows evidence to be examined for latent biological matter, fingerprints and fluorescent trace evidence.
  • The photo documentation kit provides markers and scales to help document evidence by photographic means.
  • Wildlife officials estimate that for every wild animal killed legally — tens of millions of animals per year — another is killed illegally.
  • Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached wildlife come to the attention of law enforcement.  
  • Poachers kill or injure wildlife anytime, anywhere, and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.
  • The HSUS works with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $2,500 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.

The HSUS works to curb poaching across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/poaching for more information.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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