National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory Partners with Wildlife Images to Make New Discoveries and Add an Educational Element to Southern Oregon
Grants Pass, OR— An unprecedented partnership between the National Fish & Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland and Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center in Grants Pass will be announced Saturday, July 12th at 6pm at Wildlife Images Annual Fundraiser. The relationship will expand animal-related research and educational capacities in Jackson and Josephine counties. This new collaboration begins by both organizations ability to share resources, knowledge, and facilities in an effort to learn more while increasing awareness to the public.
According to Dave Siddon Jr., Executive Director of Wildlife Images, the partnership establishes a bridge between the wildlife that are rehabilitated at his facility and the wildlife who are victims of crimes that end up at the laboratory. “This is the first time in the 40-year history of our center that we will add a forensics science component to our programs,” he explains. “With our common interest in the protection of wildlife, we expect to make great strides in educating visitors about the amazing work performed at the forensic laboratory as well as what we do here. This is a perfect partnership that ultimately will result in offering students and the public a window into cutting edge research, education, and rehabilitation of wild life.”
Education is a major component for the partnership. For example, Wildlife Images strategic plan includes the construction of a new research and education facility with an interactive living laboratory where high school and college students will have access to the processes. In addition, Ken Goddard, Director of the Forensic Lab, plans to create a curriculum for these students to augment their education in animal science, forensics, or other related courses.
The National Fish & Wildlife Forensics Laboratory is the only full service crime lab in the world dedicated to crimes against wildlife and a world leader in developing techniques for examining, identifying, and comparing physical evidence of crimes against wildlife using a wide range of scientific procedures and instruments.
Goddard says that the field of wildlife forensics is relatively new, so working with Wildlife Images is an important step in sharing what they do with the public. “This partnership is tremendously important to the work we do at the forensic lab. As a federally operated facility we cannot offer the public tours for three specific reasons; privacy of the suspects, security of the evidence, and potential disease factor issues. One of our first goals in this new partnership is the creation of a walk-thru video tour of the forensic laboratory that would be on display at Wildlife Images to educate the public on what we do at the forensic lab and how it relates to the protection and preservation of wildlife, secondly is the construction of a CSI Wildlife Training Center for our rangers to train and for Wildlife Images to use for educational purposes as well.” Ultimately, the goal is study living animals and their habitat in order to compare the research with those that are deceased. “We have always admired the work done at Wildlife Images, but this partnership takes our shared commitment and concern for animals to new levels,” Goddard says. “I have no doubt that we will continue to make new discoveries that will elevate the forensics science field, and with that, provide a vital educational element for those living and visiting our region.”
The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory the only laboratory of its kind in the world, and a world leader in developing techniques for examining, identifying, and comparing physical evidence of crimes against wildlife using a wide range of scientific procedures and instruments.
Wildlife Images was founded by David Siddon Sr. in 1981. The 24-acre facility houses a clinic, animal sanctuary, and education center, all headed up Dave Siddon, Jr. The nonprofit organization rescues and treats about 1,000 sick, injured, and orphaned animals a year, with the goal to return them to the wild. Those who can’t survive in the wild become residents, also known as Educational Animal Ambassadors.
The SAVING WILDLIFE Cougar Birthday Bash will take place at Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center located at 11845 Lower River Rd., in Grants Pass beginning at 6pm.
Story in Mail Tribune | Sunday, July 13th, 2014
July 13, 2014
By Ryan Pfeil | Mail Tribune
Wildlife Images, a wild animal rehabilitation center in Grants Pass, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland want to work together to train field agents and educate the public about wildlife conservation and research.
In the works for eight to 10 years, the project is another step in an ongoing collaboration that stretches back about 20 years.
“We have a lot of projects in mind, some amazing, cutting-edge science we’re going to be pushing forward,” said Dave Siddon, Wildlife Images director. “We know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”
The Forensics Laboratory is the only full-service crime-scene lab in the world dedicated to investigating crimes in the wild — offenses such as poaching and trafficking in animal parts.
The organizations want to create a site at Wildlife Images where U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents can train. Roughly 200 USFWS agents around the country have been trained by officials of the forensics lab. But the training occurs in other states, meaning laboratory trainers have to haul gear long distances.
“What Dave is offering is a permanent training site,” said Forensics Laboratory Director Ken Goddard. “We think it’s a great idea.”
The training site would be based at Wildlife Images’ 24-acre facility, where about 1,000 sick, injured and orphaned wild animals are treated and rehabilitated annually. It would double as a research and education facility for high school and college students.
A cost estimate for the project was not available, because plans are still being drafted and fundraising efforts have not begun.
“It’s a few years out,” Siddon said.
The organizations will also use their partnership to educate the public.
Goddard said the laboratory does not offer public tours in order to keep evidence from ongoing cases secure and to prevent the spread of disease. One of the first steps in the new partnership will be to produce a video tour of the laboratory that would be on display at Wildlife Images. Education about the work performed at the laboratory will also be discussed in Wildlife Images’ education programs.
“Hopefully it’ll be the beginning of an amazing opportunity for wildlife,” Siddon said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil