Remember those three illegally-set pole traps that were found on the Mossdale Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year? (Photo: RSPB)
You know, the ones where a Mossdale Estate gamekeeper was filmed by the RSPB as he re-set them on posts on the grouse moor? (Photo: RSPB)
Yes, the gamekeeper who escaped with a police caution after a procedural blunder, instead of facing a full blown prosecution.
Well, guess what? Two of those traps had been used previously to illegally catch birds. How do we know? Because when those traps were seized from the Mossdale Estate, sharp-eyed and forensically-aware RSPB investigators suspected that they’d been used for trapping other birds. The traps were sent for expert examination at the Wildlife Forensics Unit at the SASA labs near Edinburgh and tests revealed the presence of kestrel DNA on one trap, and DNA from another (unidentified) falcon species on the other. (Photo: Guy Shorrock)
Unfortunately a prosecution was not possible as it wasn’t known where the traps had been used previously, when they’d been used, and by whom.
You can read more about this, and other DNA cases, on a fascinating RSPB Investigations blog written by Guy Shorrock and published earlier this afternoon (here).