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Tackling poaching: Recovery of human DNA profiles from deer remains

Tobe, S.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-4854-6278, Govan, J. and Welch, L.A. (2011) Tackling poaching: Recovery of human DNA profiles from deer remains. Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series, 3 (1). e265-e266.

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Poaching is a worldwide crime that can be difficult to investigate due to the nature of the evidence. Previous studies have focused on the identification of endangered species in cases of poaching. Difficulties arise if the poached animal is not endangered. In the UK deer have hunting seasons whereby they can legally be hunted. Therefore, identification of deer alone has little probative value as samples could have originated from legal hunting activities in season. After a deer is hunted it is usual to remove the innards, head and lower limbs. The limbs are removed through manual force and represent a potential source of human ‘touch DNA’.

We investigate the potential to recover and profile human autosomal DNA from poached deer remains. Samples from the legs of ten culled deer were obtained (40 in total) using minitapes. DNA from samples was extracted, quantified and amplified to determine if it would be possible to recover human STR profiles. Low quantification data led to the use of an extended PCR cycling protocol of 34 cycles. Samples from five deer gave match probabilities of varying quality.

This study demonstrates the recovery of human touch DNA from poached animal remains. This is the first time that human STR profiling has been successfully applied to touch DNA in regards to wildlife crime.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
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