Poaching

Jes Burns / EarthFix

Before you can prosecute a thief, you have to know what he stole. This holds true for crimes against people - and crimes against nature.

Southern Oregon is home to the world’s only criminal forensics lab dedicated to this kind of evidence. Its traditional focus has been on endangered animal cases.

But that’s changing, thanks to an international push to stem the trafficking of hardwood from illegally logged forests.

Tyler Bell / Flickr

Pinto abalone were poached almost to extinction by the end of the 90s. The tasty meat of this shellfish, combined with its mother of pearl shell, made pinto abalone a target for illegal harvest, and a delicacy in Asia. Thousands upon thousands of them were taken from Puget Sound.

Tony Schick / EarthFix

The U.S. is increasing its efforts to combat global wildlife trafficking. But resources have diminished for catching poachers stateside. In Central Oregon, Fish and Wildlife troopers are struggling to protect a mule deer population that’s in decline.

Lori Iverson / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Washington Fish and Wildlife police have raided more than a dozen locations around the state. The one day blitz on suspected poachers and traffickers follows a two year undercover investigation.

Since April, 20 sea lions have washed up dead in Oregon and Washington. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports the majority of the animals were shot.

The illegal trade of wildlife is big business- worth an estimated $5 billion a year, and growing. But who do you call to investigate a crime when the victim is an elephant, or a butterfly?

Turns out, there’s only one forensics team in the world that can handle crimes involving thousands of rare and endangered species. The team works at the U.S Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon. The lab isn’t open to the public. But reporter Amelia Templeton got a glimpse inside.

A couple from Twisp, Wash., has accepted a plea deal in a wolf poaching case. Under the agreement with federal prosecutors, Tom White and his wife will not face jail time. Jessica Robinson reports.

Photo courtesy of Conservation Northwest

TWISP, Wash. -- A Twisp, Washington man has changed his plea to guilty in a high-profile federal wolf poaching case. As part of a plea agreement, the 62-year-old man will not go to prison. The lack of jail time greatly disappoints a conservation group. Correspondent Tom Banse has more on the story.