U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Forensics Laboratory

Forensics Lab Home
Science Professionals
Agents and Insectors
Students and Educators
Publications and ID Notes
The Feather Atlas
Lab Tour
Lab News
About Us
Contact Us
Site Map

Fingerprint on a Ball Python. Credit: USFWS

Special Agents and Wildlife Inspectors

Lab scientists receiving evidence.
Lab scientists receiving evidence. Credit: USFWS


Packaging evidence prior to sending items to the Lab. It is important that evidence be properly packaged in order to meet evidence security, preservation and chain of custody requirements.

Quick Links to:

Non-Perishable and Perishable Evidence
Live Ammunition
Pesticides and other Chemicals


Perishable and Non-Perishable Evidence

  1. Wrap all fragile and valuable evidence to prevent damage.
  2. Individually seal with evidence tape each item of evidence (or groups of like evidence) requiring examination.
  3. Attach seizure tags.
  4. Fill out the Evidence Submittal Form and Chain of Custody.
  5. Place all tagged evidence packages into a larger inner shipping container (box or bag) marked “EVIDENCE.” There should be no odor from this package.
  6. Place the Evidence Submittal Form and Chain of Custody (and other relevant paperwork in an envelope and attach to the outside of this container.
  7. Place this container marked “EVIDENCE” into another UNMARKED outer shipping container. Do not affix evidence tape to the outer container.
  8. For perishable evidence (carcasses and tissue samples)   Place the inner, sealed shipping container marked “EVIDENCE” into a hard plastic insulated cooler along with “blue ice” (DO NOT USE DRY ICE OR WATER ICE!).
  9. Write a letter ‘E’ (or ‘EE’ for Bushmeat) on the outside of each shipping package.
  10. Address all packages to:




Live ammunition must be packaged according to Federal DOT 49 CFR 173.63 (b) as an ORM-D material.   These regulations are limited to the following:

  • Ammunition for rifle or pistol not exceeding 50 caliber.
  • Ammunition for shotgun no larger than 8 gauge.
  • Ammunition with inert projectiles (blanks).

Packaging live ammunition as an ORM-D material for shipping must be as follows:

  • Ammunition must be packed in inside boxes, or in partitions which fit snugly in the outside packaging, or in metal clips.
  • Primers must be protected from accidental detonation.
  • Inside boxes, partitions or metal clips must be packed in securely-closed strong outside packagings.
  • 22 caliber rim-fire cartridges may be packaged loose in strong outside packagings.
  • Maximum gross weight is limited to 66 pounds per package.


The Laboratory has special collection and packaging kits for shipping hazardous materials evidence to the Laboratory. These kits will allow you to prepare shipments of hazardous evidence in a manner which meets DOT regulations. Call the Laboratory if you need a kit.
Each kit contains:
(3) 15 ml plastic tubes with screw cap lids
(6) cotton-tipped applicators
(1) padded envelope
(1) 8 oz plastic container with screw cap lid
(2) zip-lock bags
(2) pair of latex gloves
(1) U.S. Department of Transportation label
Be extremely careful when handling any chemical. Use rubber gloves to protect your hands and be careful of your clothing, shoes, tools, etc. which could transfer to your vehicle, office and home.


  1. For both pure and dilute sample tubes, place all three tubes into the padded envelope and place the envelope into the larger round plastic container.
  2. Place the plastic container into the two zip-lock bags, voiding all excess air and completely seal-locking each bag individually.
  3. Attach all seizure tags, etc., to the top flap of the outer sealed plastic bag, taking care not to staple through the air-tight portion of the bag and thus compromise the sealing process.
  4. Place all of your tagged evidence packages into a sturdy, corrugated cardboard shipping box marked “EVIDENCE” and seal with evidence tape. 
  5. Place the completed Evidence Submittal Form and Chain of Custody into an envelope and attach to the top of the closed inner container.
  6. Place the inner shipping container marked “EVIDENCE” into an OUTER shipping cardboard container.
  7. Place the DOT Excepted Quantities “This Package Conforms to 49 CFR 173.4" label on the shipping box.
Package Weight Limit:  If the complete evidence shipment with enclosed box containing the hazardous samples weighs more than 64 pounds, then you must ship the hazardous samples separately. (A shipping box that has a DOT Excepted Quantities label cannot weigh more than 64 pounds).        


U.S. Department of Interior Logo