Is It Human, LLC


Dig through boxes of bones from Virginia wildlife


Comparative osteology


Use printed and online resources to ID bones


Learn to differentiate human from non-human bones

Members of the following agencies have attended 

Is It Human? - Comparative Osteology for First Responders

Angel Search and Rescue

Black Diamond Search and Rescue

Blacksburg Rescue Squad

Blue and Gray Search and Rescue Dogs

Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group

Chesapeake Police Department

Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office - Search and Rescue

Commonwealth of Virginia Search and Rescue

Commonwealth Search and Rescue

DOGS - East

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Greater Atlantic Rescue Dogs

Hampton Police Department

Hull's Tracking School

Imigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) - US Department of Homeland Security

K9 Alert

Maryland Search and Rescue

Mid-Atlantic D.O.G.S.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)

Newport News Police Department

Norfolk Police Department

Ocean Park Volunteer Rescue Squad

Piedmont Search and Rescue

Pineland Resources

Prince William County, VA Police Department

Search and Rescue Tracking Institute

Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group

Spartanburg County Search and Rescue

Suffolk Police Department

Tidewater Search and Rescue

TrotSAR Mounted Search and Rescue Team

Virginia Beach Police Department

Virginia Department of Emergency Management

Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association

Department of Conservation and Recreation - Virginia State Parks

Virginia State Police

SRT Dive Team

York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office

Jim Russell

Is It Human, LLC

The Instructor

 Jim Russell owns and operates IS IT HUMAN, LLC and has been an active member of the Commonwealth of Virginia Search and Rescue (COVSAR) program since 2014.

He is the Director of the Search and Rescue Tracking Institute (SARTI) and the former Group Commander of Tidewater Search and Rescue (TSAR).

Jim holds certifications as a Search Team Leader (STL), Management Team Member (MTM), and Tracking Technician (TT) from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).

In 2019, Jim became a VDEM Adjunct Instructor for the Virginia Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) Academy and has been part of the instructor cadre for the Tracking Team Operations (formerly called F.A.S.T.) class, Search Team Operations class, and the Search Team Leadership class.

Jim is also an instructor for the Natural Awareness Tracking School (NATS) and teaches human tracking and land navigation.

In addition to his instruction with VDEM and NATS, Jim is a recurring presenter at the Virginia Search and Rescue Conference providing classes in land navigation, human tracking, and comparative osteology.

Also in 2019, Jim launched The Russell Bone Atlas (, a free comparative osteology website that first responders can use while in the field to help identify bones. He has also been researching and developing his own workshops for comparative osteology, comparing and identifying human and non-human bones that are found during searches. He has attended comparative osteology workshops at Radford University, Western Carolina University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

As the Director of SARTI, Jim has been heavily involved in recent research associated with the use of ultraviolet light in the recovery of human remains. Jim is actively involved in UV-related research projects with Dr. Robert Koester, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

IS IT HUMAN, LLC is a provider of educational and training events and printed materials to search and rescue, law enforcement, fire/rescue, and park rangers.

 Copyright 2023