Investigating wildlife crime

image of Investigating wildlife crime
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The veterinary surgeon’s role in the investigation of wildlife crime falls within the developing specialist area of forensic veterinary medicine. The standard of investigation and reporting of alleged wildlife crime has improved markedly in recent times and, consequently, investigators have high expectations of the potential depth and quality of evidence provided by the veterinary profession. This chapter gives information to help veterinary surgeons recognize and record potential wildlife crimes to a standard that will assist the investigation process.

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11.3 Forensic examination equipment essentials: pens; labels; ruler; photographic scales. (© Simon Newbery)
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11.4 Various tapes are available for the identification of potential biohazards, highlighting evidential material or for sealing evidence containers. (© Simon Newbery)
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11.5 Evidence bags are convenient, provide space for recording details and are readily sealed and resealed. (© Simon Newbery)
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11.6 Roe deer shot in the neck with a 12-bore shotgun from a distance of a few metres. Large numbers of shotgun pellets were found clustered within the wound.
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11.7 Lateral radiograph of a dead rabbit () struck by shotgun pellets from a 12-bore shotgun. The distribution of pellets throughout the body indicates that the shooter was at a considerable distance from the rabbit. It is worth noting that many of the shotgun pellets would have passed above, below and to the sides of this rabbit.
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11.8 Radiograph of a tawny owl () showing the characteristic fragmentation pattern of a high-velocity rifle bullet. The radiodense ‘flying seagull’ shapes are fragments of the copper jacket.
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11.10 Carbamate formulations. Physical appearance can be an unreliable guide to the identity of specific compounds. (SASA © Crown Copyright)
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11.12 Metaldehyde slug pellets mixed with sausage meat. (SASA © Crown Copypright)
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11.13 Ventrodorsal radiograph of a dead goshawk () with food in the crop (arrowed), but no signs of trauma or firearm injury. The radiodense objects scattered through the radiograph are pieces of stone/grit in the feathers. This goshawk was in good body condition and toxicology under the WIIS confirmed illegal poisoning in this bird and four other raptors. (© RSPB)
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11.14 A pole trap consists of a spring trap set on the top of a post for the purpose of trapping any raptor that alights on it. They are often set near pheasant-rearing pens. (© G Shorrock, RSPB)
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11.15 Compound fracture to the distal tibiotarsus, accompanied by considerable tearing and laceration of the skin, in a long-eared owl (). This is a common type of injury in birds caught in spring traps.
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11.16 Fly eggs (arrowed) clustered on snare wire around the neck of a badger (). Eggs are collected with a damp paintbrush or forceps. Half are preserved in alcohol and half are collected alive.
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11.17 Obtaining a blood sample from a golden eagle () for DNA analysis. If blood samples from a live animal or bird are required, regulations require that these samples are collected by a veterinary surgeon. (© G Shorrock, RSPB)
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