GOT WOOD? TREE DNA SENDS ILLEGAL LOGGER TO PRISON IN FIRST EVER CRIMINAL CASE
So criminals today have a lot more to deal with trying to stay under the radar and out of prison these days. I’m old enough to remember when any DNA evidence at all was a fresh novelty, helping to close really old cold cases, especially murders. But in a legal first, an illegal logger is now on the way to prison totally because of tree DNA evidence. I’m actually surprised by this one, though I shouldn’t be. Of course trees also have DNA! And, well, I’m also kind of surprised that we still have illegal logging operations in the United States. Maybe I’m just naïve.
WASHINGTON STATE TREE RUSTLERS HAVE TO BE SHOCKED CSI WOOD SENDS THEM UP THE RIVER
So this case is coming from Washington State, where tree poacher Justin Andrew Wilke and his team of tree poachers found the scales of justice tipping hard their way with the weight of tree DNA. He’ll be in prison for 20 months for his logging of trees from the Olympic National Forest. Evidently, there’s a pricey market for nice sized maple trees which you can find in the protected federal land. Wilke cut a number of them down and sold the wood with permits that were forgeries. So illegal logging, fraud, forgery. Naughty, naughty.
CHANCE TREE DNA MATCH WAS A COINCIDENCE JUST 1 IN 1 UNDECILLION, A SLAM DUNK CASE
But here’s where the math gets really interesting in terms of just how solid the tree DNA evidence from the Elk Lake area in the Olympic National Forest was. The chance that the tree DNA match was just a coincidence was just 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. And yes, those are 36 zeros there. And until today, I didn’t even know the name of that many numbers. So in English, that’s one in one undecillion. So far, Wilke is only up the woody creek for the maples from the one location. But he may face other charges for 7 other trees that authorities haven’t yet identified.