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Wildlife Forensic Courses

Wildlife Forensic Sciences and Conservation Course Descriptions

WIS 6561 Wildlife Crime Scene Processing

This course will serve as an introduction to wildlife crime scene investigations. The purpose of the course is to give the student an overview of procedures and protocols that can be used when processing a wildlife crime scene and will discuss in detail various types of evidence. Students will gain an understanding of forensic science and its disciplines and will know how to properly document and process a crime scene where wildlife may be the victim or possibly the perpetrator. Students will learn about evidence recognition and handling as well as record keeping to prevent undocumented scene details or lost or damaged evidence. Topics will also include various methods to properly conduct a search of the scene and record information, as well as tricks and techniques for equipment improvisation when in the field. Students will also become familiar with various presumptive test methods that can be utilized at the scene to identify items of evidence, and will have gained a background in basic species morphology.

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WIS 6559 Contemporary Issues in Wildlife Protection and Conservation

This course is an introduction to wildlife conservation and ecology issues that may impact investigation of wildlife crime. At the successful completion of this course, students will have an understanding of wildlife ecology, biodiversity, current environmental and wildlife concerns such as habitat destruction, invasive species and climate change, and topics related to population ecology, restoration ecology and ecological succession. The student will have also learned some of the various considerations in wildlife management and population assessments, in addition to how to evaluate animal populations for decreases, altered structure, or changing adaptations. The student will be familiar with the current trends in wildlife and biodiversity threats, including poaching, illegal trade, and environmental disasters, as well as some investigative tools such as soil and isotopic analysis, chemical fingerprinting, microscopy, and new and novel environmental forensic techniques that can be used to combat these issues.

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WIS 6557 Wildlife Conservation Laws and Legislation

Students completing this course will have a better understanding of the legal considerations surrounding the environment and wildlife issues in general. Students will have learned the history and current role of the laws and policies applicable to national and international wildlife and environmental conservation and will have become familiar with the organizations, acts and treaties tasked with developing and enforcing the law. They will also have an understanding of related cultural and societal concerns and contemporary conservation issues. The semester will be divided into U.S.-based (domestic) wildlife law and international (global) wildlife and environmental law. Learning objectives will be accomplished through a combination of lecture material, readings, writing assignments, and online active discussions. Case studies will be used to supplement the lessons.

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WIS 5562 Conservation Medicine (elective)

The discipline of conservation medicine results from a long evolution of trans-disciplinary thinking, merged from the health and ecological sciences.  This course will examine the links between climate, habitat and land use, emergence and re-emergence of infectious disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants, and the maintenance of biodiversity as an indicator of the ecohealth of a community.  The course will describe conservation medicine in a historical context, and includes case studies and applied techniques.  Conservation medicine stresses the importance of recognizing that human health, animal health, and ecosystem health are inextricably interdependent.

Wildlife forensics is an emerging discipline within the field of conservation medicine. This course will discuss conservation with wildlife forensic science in mind, from the perspective of the transdisciplinary approach. Forensics, as it relates to issues of wildlife crime, the illegal wildlife trade, and the consumption and trade of bushmeat; ecotoxicology as it relates to forensics and the use of plants to harm humans, livestock, or wildlife; applied techniques in conservation as it relates to the forensic sciences will all be discussed. Throughout the course, current topics in wildlife forensics will be covered through the presentation of case studies, examples in the field, and relevant media.

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VME 6053 Skeletal Trauma Analysis in Animals

This course provides an introduction to skeletal trauma in non-human remains. In the course of this class, we will cover blunt force, sharp force, projectile, and fighting trauma including the mechanisms of injury. Also covered will be skeletal evidence of other types of abuse including starvation, infection, or neglect. Skeletal pathology will be addressed. Taphonomy will also be discussed particularly in reference to distinguishing postmortem damage from antemortem or perimortem trauma. Learning objectives will be accomplished through a combination of lecture material, readings, online active discussions and case analyses, and a final case analysis presentation.

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At a Glance