DNA Sampling Kits Launched - 2004
A new tool for Wildlife Crime Investigation
The use of DNA Evidence in wildlife crime investigations has taken a step forward with the launch of a Wildlife DNA Sampling kit. Produced by Wildlife DNA Services and the Rural Policing Liaison Group, the kit is designed for enforcement officers to collect samples of animal DNA in the field.
Modern DNA forensic techniques allow species identification and in some cases individual profiling from trace amounts of DNA. The kits will allow Police, RSPB, RSPCA and HM Customs and Excise inspectors to recover genetic evidence from a range of crime scenes including illegal traps, disturbed nest sites and dug out badger setts.
Faye Burton of the Rural Policing Liaison Group explained that the kits should make it easier to get more cases to court.
"These kits will be especially useful in cases of badger-baiting and dog fighting, where investigators will be able to collect fresh samples in the absence of police Scenes Of Crime Officers."
Each kit contains all the necessary equipment to take samples of blood, hair, bone and even faeces, ensuring that as much of the fragile DNA is securely preserved as quickly as possible.
The development of the kits by Wildlife DNA services and funding by the Rural Policing Liaison Group followed consultations with various wildlife enforcement agencies in order to meet the requirements of officers in the field.
"There is now greater potential to tackle many cases of animal abuse and illegal wildlife trade using DNA techniques. Securing evidence samples in the field is an important part of this process."- Dr. Rob Ogden, Project Manager, Wildlife DNA Services
The kits are currently on trial across the country, pending official approval from the UK's Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW). They are being produced at cost to promote the use of animal DNA in wildlife crime investigations. The costs for the initial development were met by the Rural Policing Liaison group. They should be available nation-wide in the new year (2004).
The DNA Kits have been taken up by DEFRA, and are now in widespread use in this country and abroad.