Donna Jackson (The Bone Detectives, 1996) creates a riveting and thorough account of dedicated people banding together with the help of science and the law to catch an elk poacher. It begins the day before the elk, Charger, is shot in Yellowstone Park and takes the reader through almost two years of detective work more riveting then any television police drama. Jackson focuses on the almost miraculous feats of scientists in the only animal forensic lab in the world as they piece together clues, examining, for example, DNA samples and bullet casings. Those readers clamoring for justice will find satisfaction in the apprehension of the poacher who is punished with jail time and fines. Jackson does not skip lightly around the subject, so the story is often painful and jarring. The treatment is appropriate for children over ten, effectively eliciting an emotional reaction that is educational as well as motivational. Interspersed throughout the story are pages filled with facts about the law, science, poaching, and endangered species.
Stunning color photographs from a renowned team graphically illustrate the pages, but do not overwhelm the text. The effect is that of a scrapbook of information with photos that enrich a real-life animal detective story. (ways to help, list of forensic terms) (Nonfiction. 8-10)