Volume 44, Issue 4 (July 1999)
Wildlife Forensic Entomology: Determining Time of Death in Two Illegally Killed Black Bear Cubs
Forensic entomology is now commonly used to determine time of death in human death investigations. However, it can be equally applicable to wildlife crimes. This paper describes the use of entomology to determine time of death in the illegal killing of two young bear cubs in Manitoba, Canada. Two cubs were found shot, disemboweled, with their gall bladders removed. Natural Resource officers (Conservation Officers) and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.) officer examined the remains, and the R.C.M.P. officer collected insect evidence. The only insects on the remains were adult blow flies coming to lay eggs and the blow fly eggs themselves (Diptera: Calliphoridae). The time of hatch was recorded and the insects were reared to adulthood. Time of hatch, together with species identification, macro and micro climate and lab developmental data were used to determine the time of death. The time was consistent with the time that the defendants were seen at the scene and was used in their conviction. This case illustrates that insect evidence can be equally as valuable in poaching cases as in homicide cases. However, in most cases Conservation Officers are unaware of this science. It is therefore, extremely important for more Conservation Officers to be educated about this field.