Wildlife forensics experts from NOAA, the Society for Wildlife Forensic Sciences, and other organizations convened last week at NOAA's Marine Forensics Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, for the inaugural meeting of the Scientific Working Group for Wildlife Forensics (SWG-WILD). The experts established the SWG (pronounced 'swig') in response to a 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences that criticized certain forensics premises and techniques as scientifically unreliable.
Biologist Kathy Moore, chairperson of SWG-WILD, specializes in marine forensics at NOAA's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston. Explaining that the NAS report focused on human forensics, she and her colleagues in wildlife forensics were still concerned that its findings might undercut their testimony in courts of law. As a result, they teamed up to set standards meant to bolster the quality and credibility of scientific evidence that they present in criminal and civil trials.