New research into retrieving human DNA found at the scene could be used to support wildlife crime investigations, even days after the incident has taken place, the Scottish Government has announced.
The research was initiated by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland and carried out by the Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) Forensic Services, the Scottish Government and the University of Strathclyde.
It found DNA can be traced on traps that have been outside for at least ten days, and from rabbit baits and bird carcasses at crime scenes after at least 24 hours.
“Poisoning, trapping and shooting are all methods used to illegally target birds of prey, however investigations can often be hampered by a lack of evidence,” explained Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who is also chair of PAW Scotland. “This new research will unlock the potential of using DNA profiles to track criminals and could play a crucial role in helping secure convictions for wildlife crime.”
“We continue to prioritise wildlife crime and are working to develop new ways to protect our precious birds of prey, including through a new wildlife crime detective post at Police Scotland HQ and a new team of special constables to tackle rural crime in the Cairngorms National Park,” she said.
“In recent years, over £6 million has been invested in new forensic capability in Scotland including DNA24, robotics and powerful software to successfully obtain DNA profiles in support of the Scottish justice system,” added Steven Ferguson, Lead Forensic Scientist at SPA Forensic Services. “The research undertaken by PAW has demonstrated that these same techniques, used in crimes ranging from housebreaking to murder, can also be used to identify those involved in persecuting birds of prey.”
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