The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature

HV 7959 .J33 2000.  H is Social Sciences, HV is Social pathology, social and public welfare, and HV 7959 is Social pathology. Social and public welfare. CriminologyCriminal justice administrationPolice. Detectives. ConstabularyAdministration and organizationNational police. Constabulary. Gendarmes–Organization–Game and forest police.  J33 2000 is a code which helps the library organize alphabetically by author within this subject.  This code (known as a cutter) may vary slightly in different libraries.  The Wildlife Detectives is a National Science Teachers Association Children’s Book Council Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children (2001).

Series Title: Scientists in Action
Author: Donna M. Jackson
ISBN-10: 0395869765 ISBN-13: 978-0395869765
City and Publisher: Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2000
Author’s Website:

Reader’s Annotation: Who steps in when endangered animals are killed?  Who works to solve mysteries on behalf of the animal kingdom?  The Wildlife Detectives!

Plot Summary: The Wildlife Detectives begins with an overview of the history of the forensic science used by people who fight crimes against wildlife.  It also introduces, in a “Wild File” sidebar, the  basics of what it means to be a threatened or endangered species.  The book than follows the mystery of the murder of Charger, one of Yellowstone National  Park’s most famous bull elks. Descriptions of how scientists and law enforcement agents work to solve the crime are punctuated by information about poaching, wildlife protection laws, and other aspects of wildlife protection.

Critical Evaluation: The Wildlife Detectives provides a very comprehensive view of how animals are protected – by laws, by science, and by all kinds of people.It describes how many factors interact towards one goal, using simple but engaging language.  This book is a little less engaging than some of the others I’ve read in this series, perhaps because the topic is a little dour and so much information is packed in the pages.  However, it is still a very well written and informative book.

Illustrations: The Wildlife Detectives is illustrated with full color photos.  Some photos are fascinating, but some do feel a little dated.  The images could be better placed in order to fully express the emotional content; some of the images have the potential to be very powerful, but are muted by the book design.

Reading Level/Interest: 8 & up
Curriculum Ties:
Animals, environmental studies, laws, taxonomy, DNA
Booktalking Ideas: Ask kids what their favorite animal is and then segue into a discussion about Endangered and threatened species.

Challenge Issues: Some parents may have issues with the Endangered Species act, or may feel this book is anti-hunting.  While The Wildlife Detectives does have a pro-conservation message, ultimately it is a book about science and the law.

About the Author: Although her original intention was to become a child psychologist, the wonderful feeling of writing a well-received article lured Jackson away to pursue a degree in journalism.  She has written approximately ten books for children, in mostly science or animal related non-fiction.  More at:

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