DNA science cracked case of stolen walnut trees on Mark Twain National Forest

By Lucas Davis
News Talk KZRG
April 17, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

MISSOURI — A recent investigation of illegal tree harvesting on the Mark Twain National Forest that led to the indictment of a southern Missouri man used DNA from an illegally harvested log. This case marks the first time that tree DNA was used to investigate a federal timber poaching case in the eastern US. …After identifying eight freshly cut walnut stumps at the site, a Forest Service special agent investigated a nearby lumber mill, where he found one log with dimensions matching one of the stumps. …The special agent contacted Richard Cronn, a USDA Forest Service research geneticist in Oregon, who pioneered the use of tree DNA in illegal logging investigations. …Cronn’s lab showed that the samples were identical across 80 genetic markers. …The defendant pled guilty in July 2023 to one felony count of depredation of Government property.

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