Scattered Episode 16: The Scavenging Project – Interview with Dr. Shari Forbes

Dr. Shari Forbes is a Canada 150 Research Chair in Forensic Thanatology at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR). She has the only human decomposition facility in Canada, REST[ES], the site for Recherche en Sciences Thanatologiques [Expérimentales et Sociales]. I have been collaborating with Shari on the Alberta component of a cross-Canada research study of the scavenging activity on remains.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Shari’s REST[ES] facility in relation to others in North America and the world
  • what human decomposition facilities are used for and what Shari’s facility is used for and how the research at these facilities has recently changed
  • the challenges of researching naturalistic environments with multiple variables
  • how the current cross-Canada scavenging project started (in Quebec and Ontario with the Human Remains Detection dogs and their handlers) and why it’s important
  • the current and evolving multi-jurisdictional nature of the cross-Canada scavenging project
  • preliminary results in the cross-Canada scavenging project, including the first research paper (see citation below)
  • scavenger and scavenging behaviour differences between Ontario and Alberta
  • challenging assumptions
  • where we are in terms of answering the questions “Where do we search? How far do we search?”
  • future plans, including expanding into eastern Canada – if you’re interested, contact Shari or me!

You can see Shari’s profile here: https://shariforbes.com/

Forbes, S.L., Samson, C., and Watson, C.J. (2022). Seasonal impact of scavenger guilds as taphonomic agents in central and northern Ontario, Canada. Journal of Forensic Sciences; 00:1-15. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.15122. Get the PDF here.

To see videos of the Scavenging Study, visit this page.

Check out my blog for a series of posts (“The Smell of Dead Pig in the Morning“) that features pictures and details about searching for the remains of these pig carcasses.

Are you interested in joining the cross-Canada scavenging project? Let us know!

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