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Game and Fish forensic lab receives National Standard board’s ‘top accreditation’

Desert cottontail (Shutterstock) Lab tests (Wyoming Game and Fish)

CASPER, Wyo –The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Forensics and Fish Health Lab in Laramie recently received a “highly coveted” accreditation  through the American National Standards Institute’s National Accreditation Board, the Department said Monday.

 “It’s the top accreditation a lab can acquire, and it makes the Game and Fish facility one of the most trusted wildlife forensic labs in the country,” the release said.

The Game and Fish lab provides forensic work, tooth aging and fish health services to the Game and Fish, as well as a dozen other states. the release said.

“The lab ensures that Wyoming’s wildlife is defended in courts and is properly managed by providing scientific data to game managers,” said Kim Frazier, laboratory director. 

Each year, the forensics lab works on 70 to 80 cases involving poaching of Wyoming’s wildlife. Forensics studies provide game wardens with necessary proof in law enforcement cases. 

Accreditation is a highly-coveted standard.  “It’s the bar all labs want to reach,” Frazier noted. 

To be accredited, an unaffiliated agency ensures a laboratory is meeting specific standards, and the list of requirements “is long and stringent,” Game and Fish said. 

The process includes an assessment of the lab’s technical qualifications and competence for conducting specific testing activities. 

“We had to show them examples of procedures we do in the lab, and demonstrate that we do it accurately and safely,” Frazier said.

Game and Fish said it has been planning for lab accreditation since 2015, when the U.S. Department of Justice announced their intent to require labs that receive federal funds to acquire and maintain accreditation. 

The campaign for accreditation drove the opening of the new lab in 2018, which is nearly four times the size of the old lab. 

“The new facility provides additional space and upgrades that made accreditation a reality,” Frazier said. 

The lab also provides a separate workspace for forensics and fish health. In the old facility, the fish health staff shared space with forensics and DNA testing equipment, which would have prevented accreditation of the forensics laboratory.

The Forensics and Fish Health Lab  is now approaching its 75 anniversary. The new facility and prestigious accreditation should allow the lab to continue to serve the people of Wyoming well into the future, the WGFD said.

“We have always been following the standards required for a forensic lab,” Frazier said. “Now we are accredited to them.”