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Westcore Wildlife Forensics

Frequently Asked Questions

Wildlife Forensics FAQs

Can we do DNA matching? : Yes. We can do microsatellite DNA matching on deer, elk, pronghorn, turkey, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and bears.

Can we do species identification? : Yes. With tissue or blood we can identify mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and pronghorn to species level.
With DNA we can identify bears to species level. Other species of interest can also be identified with DNA.

Can we do gender identification? : Yes. We can determine the gender of deer, elk, pronghorn, bears, mountain lions, turkeys and pheasant.

Can we do headless big game animal matching? : Yes, it would be treated the same as a DNA matching case.

How much does it cost? : We charge on a per case basis for up to 6 samples. If there are more than 6 samples, we there is an additional cost per test, i.e. per matching, per species ID, per gender ID.

What kind of sample gives the best DNA? : In order from best to worst: 1) tissue-muscle, skin, etc., 2) blood, 3) bone/antler, 4) hair.

How much tissue do we need? : A small piece about the size of a pencil eraser or a Tic Tac.

What do we need from officers to take a case?
1) An original Chain of Custody form that has all the information we need to process the samples. The officers can keep a photocopy for their records.

2) Samples should be sealed, initialed and dated with either evidence tape or some type of packing tape to show that the samples have not been tampered with.

3) If this is a case from a new area, we need a minimum of 22 samples of the species in question from the area where the evidence is thought to have originated to establish a baseline database.

Why do we need to establish a baseline database? : To calculate match probabilities and likelihoods. Statistics. For a DNA match to have any validity in court, a match likelihood must be calculated. It is best to have samples from a local population to do the calculation. We do not testify in court without a local database.

How much does a database cost? : $906.00

How long will it take to have results? : Depending on the lab’s current case load, it usually takes about 1-2 months.

How should samples be sent to the lab? : Samples should be sent frozen by overnight FedEx or USPS to preserve the integrity of the sample. If they are stored in desiccant tubes, they can be sent by regular mail.

FedEx: US Postal Service:
CCBR/WestCore CCBR/WestCore
C/o Carolyn Ferrell c/o Carolyn Ferrell
Black Hills State University Black Hills State University
1200 University St. 1200 University St., Unit 9053
Jonas Hall, Rm 110 Spearfish, SD 57799
Spearfish, SD 57799

Black Hills State University

Black Hills State University
Life Science Laboratory 113
1200 University Ave, Unit 9053
Spearfish, SD 57799
(605) 642-6854