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Wildlife crime: The application of forensic geoscience to assist with criminal investigations

Wisniewski, Kristopher D., Pringle, Jamie K., Allen, Daniel, Wilson, Gary E.
Forensic science international 2019 v.294 pp. e11
badgers, case studies, crime, forensic sciences, ground-penetrating radar, police, rural areas, slurries, surveys, topography, weather, wildlife
Wildlife crime is a growing problem in many rural areas. However, it can often be difficult to determine exactly what had happened and provide evidential Court material, especially where evidence is ephemeral. This paper presents a case study where a badger sett had been illegally filled and evidence was rapidly required to support a prosecution before it was either destroyed by the suspect/further badger activities or eroded by weather/time. A topographic surface survey was undertaken, quantifying the number and spatial position of sett entrances, as well as which had been filled by a slurry material. A ground penetrating radar survey was also undertaken to quantify how much tunnels were filled. Study results evidenced five sett tunnels were filled out of twelve observed. The slurry fill material was not being observed elsewhere on the surface. GPR survey data evidenced ∼1m–5m of slurry fill in tunnels. A subsequent report was forwarded to the CPS as evidential material. Study implications suggest the importance of rapid geoscience surveys to assist Police Forces to both gain scientific evidence for prosecutions and to deter future wildlife crime.