There had been a number of incidents of hunting with dogs in recent years, in relation to badger, hares, sheep and deer. Staffordshire has a number of deer farms and also wild deer in a number of locations including Trentham Gardens. There were regular reports of deer poaching with deer carcasses regularly left behind at the crime scene. In an effort to link the offending dog to the crime Rural and Wildlife Crime Officers have been issued with DNA sampling kits in order to recover DNA samples from the wound in the absence of a forensic investigator being available. Additionally the deer DNA is being extracted and used to establish the breed and herd of deer and build a deer DNA database.
Identifying the problem
Increase in incidents of deer poaching.
Impact on rural businesses and increased calls for service into the control room.
Legislation changes - Existing
Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981
Hunting Act 2004
Legislation changes - New
Our wildlife forensics expert put together DNA Sampling Kits which were issued to rural and crime officers together with training in their use. We have also held an annual Poaching Awareness Day for the last 2 years at different rural locations in the County. This is attended by gamekeepers and deer wardens who have also been issued with DNA Sampling Kits and have been trained how to forensically extract the DNA. This initiative is strongly supported by the deer wardens and gamekeepers.
This is an ongoing project that has been well received by the rural communities. The Poaching Awareness Day is likely to become an annual event for the foreseeable future.
What didn't work
At the initial Poaching Awareness Day there was a deer carcass (sourced from the local deer wardens) available to show the attendees how to practically use the DNA kits, however it was decided not to repeat this exercise at the next Poaching Awareness Day for ethical reasons.
The problem will never be resolved however there has been a decrease in the number of incidents of deer poaching.
This is an ongoing initiative with a long term aim to build a deer DNA database.