Wildlife crime battle to benefit from more forensic science
International Society for Wildlife Forensic Science’s symposium to be held in Edinburgh
Golden eagle poisoning - credit RSPB
A new wildlife forensics programme at the University of Edinburgh will support wildlife crime investigations in Scotland.
The new partnership will create formal ties between the Scottish Government’s Wildlife DNA Forensics unit and the university’s research unit at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies and the Roslin Institute.
The move follows a number of unlawful killings of birds of prey in Scotland, including a case where video evidence against two gamekeepers was deemed inadmissable by the Crown Office.
- MSPs seek clarification on use of evidence in cases of wildlife crime
- Nearly one in three satellite tagged golden eagles in Scotland died in “suspicious circumstances”, finds SNH
The partnership will be announced today by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham at The Society for Wildlife Forensic Science’s symposium, which is being held in Edinburgh.
It is the first time the event has been held outside the USA.
“As hosts to the UK’s only dedicated wildlife DNA forensics lab, Scotland is leading the way when it comes to using forensic science to shape wildlife law enforcement," she said.
"Forensics can provide evidence that an offence has been committed and plays an important role investigating trade routes and poaching."
Dr Rob Ogden, President of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science, said: “The fight against wildlife crime in all its forms requires coordinated efforts from multiple partners to reduce incentives and demand, and to investigate and prosecute criminal activity. Forensic science has revolutionised criminal investigations and is now being employed to help protect some of the worlds most threatened species from persecution and illegal trade."
With illegal traps often placed in remote locations, investigators have previously struggled to collect evidence of wrong doing
While the overall number of recorded crimes fell from 284 instances in 2014/15 to 261 in 2015/16, the number of crimes involving hunting with dogs rose to its highest in five years
Animal rights concerns have been drowned out with cries of 'fake news'
Scottish Natural Heritage finds majority of cases in areas where land is intensively managed for driven grouse shooting