ASHLAND, OREG.—The pharoah in the biblical story of Joseph suffered through seven lean years; biochemist Ken Goddard’s dry spell lasted even longer. For nine years, this U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service scientist was a voice crying in the wilderness, trying to convince the powers-that-be that the nation desperately needs a forensic laboratory to combat the growing illegal trade in wildlife products. And for most of those nine years, Goddard found his efforts stymied by tight budgets and doubting bureaucrats. So for Goddard, the current promise of years of plenty is doubly sweet.

Seven months ago, the F&WS’s forensic laboratory—the first of its kind in the world—finally opened its doors in Ashland, Oreg., with Goddard as director. He’s still looking for more scientific sleuths to fill out his staff, but that’s a minor hurdle compared to what he’s been through. “I always believed I would win this,” he says, “but when...

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