The reality of today’s enforcementis that many crimes committed in modern society have evidence regarding the crime stored in some digital format. Years ago a crime scene may have included a smoking gun, a few receipts, and a notebook of events of a particular crime. As technology develops and the Internet expands, wildlife enforcement officers are finding the expansion of communication sometimes includes evidence of a crime on local computers, digital devices, digital video cameras and the Internet. Many criminals have access to vast amounts of information on how to commit their crimes and often use Web-based social media to share the pictures of their activity. It doesn’t matter if the crime is theft, deception, battery, hate crimes, wildlife or murder. Many times there is evidence of these crimes researched, stored or hidden on some digital device. It might be a cell phone used to make the call or text, a digital video camera used to scout an area, or a GPS device used to navigate the terrain. Keep in mind during your next investigation that digital evidence is all around us and knowing how to properly secure and search this evidence can make the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict.
A typical days hunt (legal or illegal) includes most of these items: computer– to search for directions, check the weather, determine sunrise and sunset; a digital camera – to secure the images of a day’s hunt and share the victory of a harvest; a vehicle or handheld GPS–to safely arrive and navigate to a hunting position; cell phones – to communicate with your hunting party or provide information as a lookout (can also substitute as a computer, GPS, camera, video camera as described above). Let’s not forget a trip to the ATM and gas station for fuel, food, and soda. Most legal hunters are going to employ these devices in efforts to make their hunt more successful. They may even use these devices to assist them in returning home or calling for help.