Wildlife Conservation and Forensic Science

VME 6570


Students completing this course will have an understanding of the fundamental concepts of animal conservation and protection. The course will also address the applicability and importance of forensic science in wildlife investigations, including an introduction to the scientific and forensic method, crime scene analysis and processing, types of evidence, evidence collection, and field analyses.


Module Topic
Week 1 Introduction to Wildlife Conservation and Protection
Conservation and Forensic Terminology
Using Forensic Science in Cases of Wildlife Crime
Introduction to Taxonomic Identification
Introduction to Species Identification
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 2 Wildlife Management
Federal vs. State Law
Division of Natural Resources
Endangered Species Act
Research Project Assigned
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 3 International Law
Endangered vs. Threatened Species
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 4 Conservation Organizations
US Fish & Wildlife Service/SWIGWILD
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 5 Current Wildlife Conservation Issues and Trends
Animal “Ownership”
International Trade
Native vs. Non-native Species
Habitat Loss
Exotic Pet Trade
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 6 Poaching
Species of Concern
Relevant Case Studies
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 7 Social and Ethical Considerations
The “Right” of Society to Govern Wildlife
Societal Opinions
Religious Beliefs and Practices
Review Session
Discussion Questions
Week 8 Midterm Exam
Week 9 Introduction to Wildlife Forensics
What is Forensic Science?
History of Forensic Science
Branches of Forensic Science & Their Usefulness to Investigations of Wildlife Crime
Relevant Case Studies
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 10 Crime Scene Analysis
Field Techniques
Photographic Evidence
Scene Documentation
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 11 Physical Evidence
Chain of Custody
Evidence Analysis
Live Animal Examinations
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 12 DNA and Molecular Analysis
Genetic Methodologies
Current Trends in Wildlife Evidence Analysis
Ongoing Research
DNA Case Studies
Discussion Questions/Project
Week 13 Prosecution
Courtroom Considerations
Strengths of and Challenges to Wildlife Forensics
Looking to the Future
Review Session
Discussion Questions/Project (6 pts.)
Week 14 Final Exam/Research Project Due