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Researchers tackle livestock attacks problem

A new forensic research project run by Liverpool John Moores University is working with farmers, police, vets and industry to improve the collection of offending dog DNA from attacked livestock.

The research forms part of the Canine DNA Recovery Project aiming to develop, promote and apply best practice methods for the collection and analysis of canine DNA from attacked livestock and wildlife.

While livestock attacks are on the increase, obtaining suitable forensic samples from the scene is difficult as attacks often occur in remote locations. The timing of sample collection is important as the DNA of an offending dog will not last long on an animal exposed to the elements or on a dead carcass that has been disturbed or moved.

This led research lead Dr Nick Dawnay to develop Early Evidence Kits so that, in the event of a livestock attack, a forensic sample can be collected at the crime scene by police, vets and farmers. These easy-to-use kits will enable canine DNA to be collected in minutes at the scene of the attack, with samples then handed to the police.

Dave Allen, North Wales Police and NPCC Livestock Offence Working Group Secretary, said: “New legislation for England and Wales is currently making its way through Parliament and gives police offers the power to take a DNA sample from a suspected dog to compare to canine DNA left at an attack scene.

“These kits are an exciting development and can be utilised for an issue that causes major concern to our UK rural communities.”

Kits are being distributed in summer 2024 in 10 regions across England and Wales through participating police forces, NFU Mutual, the National Sheep Association, and the National Farmers Union Wales.

The kits are currently for research use only and any future use for evidence collection is subject to validation and acceptance by the UK Criminal Justice System.

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