Category:Wildlife forensics

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The principle purpose of a forensic necropsy is to determine the cause and nature of death of the animal being examined:

  • The following are essential elements that must be kept in mind when conducting these necropsies:
  • Expertise of the veterinarian conducting the necropsy. In court, the qualifications and experience of veterinarians, and pathologists, will be examined to assess their level of competence and expertise. Thus, do not pretend that you are able to do, that which you cannot...
  • Discuss with the client what can and what cannot be done in terms of specimens, costs, and general expectations
  • Identification of the animal subjected to the necropsy
  • Determination of the time sequence in which events occurred, the general health of the animal, and the presence of pre-existing conditions that may have influenced its death
  • Collect appropriate specimens to allow confirmation of the aetiological cause of death. Also collect information and do anciliary tests to rule out alternate explanations
  • Submission of specimens for laboratory investigation. This is a specialised process and should preferably be done with and in association with a law enforcement officer. There should be no doubt that the specimens submitted are from the specified animal complete record of all procedures and observations. Cases may go to court years after the event, and long after you have forgotten the detail of the specific case. Use photography to record visual evidence. Digital photography though, is a challenge on its own, and to proove that the photo has not been tampered with may be quite a challenge. All records and reports should be retained indefinitely
  • Pay attention the special requirements for collecting forensic specimens, toxicology and DNA analysis
  • Maintaining the chain-of-custody of specimens
  • The necropsy report should be detailed and list the following: full descriptions of all abnormalities found; sex, age, and body condition; negative as well as positive findings so as to leave no doubt that the specific organ was examined, use absolute measurements (cm) and not relative terms (size of an orange...), location of lesions should be indicated on outline drawings
  • A detailed, clear, concise and written report in non-technical language