Forensic Specialist for the DEP

By Tony Pucino

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Someone who is a Forensic Specialist for the DEP will find themselves providing forensic assistance to wildlife and animals and also help protect threatened and endangered species. This includes poaching, animal abuse, illegal trade or the harming of animals due to pollution or oil spills.
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How is the field used to solve cases?

The field is used to solve cases by always starting with a crime scene. The forensic team is dispatched at the request of a game warden, park ranger or other person familiar with laws relating to animals. Next they will collect samples and take pictures of the dead animal if possible and properly keep the evidence safe and preserved and establish an evidence chain of people who they think might have committed the crime. One very important task that they learn is they are trained to know whether an animal has been killed unlawfully or died of natural causes.If officials are uncertain how an animal has died, forensic specialists can examine the remains to make a cause of death determination. Most of the time it will be obvious whether the animal was shot or trapped. This is not always the case when deaths are caused by pollution or poison, and a very specific examination is necessary. Forensic specialists are required to find the cause, mechanism and manner of death.


Degree Level Bachelor's degree for technician positions; master's or doctoral degree needed for career advancement or research positions

Degree Field(s) Forensic science, biology, chemistry, or other natural science

Key Skills Attention to detail, critical thinking, excellent written and spoken communication skills, ability to work with chemicals and laboratory equipment

Salary (2014) $55,360 (median for forensic science technicians)

Actual Criminal Case using this field to solve the crime

On August 27th two men were found guilty of poaching deer as 3 deer were found dead with gunshot wounds in Arizona. Forensic Wildlife scientists were involved in this case because they are the ones who deal with poaching incidents. They had to find out where the bullets came from tracing back to who bought them and that was how they found the 2 men who are now guilty.