RSPCA armed with badger DNA

The RSPCA is to create a DNA database for badgers that will help secure more prosecutions of badger-baiters.

The society has commissioned Wildlife DNA Services to set up a database of badger samples from across the country. The samples can be taken from hair, blood or faeces and matched to samples taken from a defendant's clothing, vehicle, dogs or equipment. Using a match as evidence in court has been problematic in the past because no suitable reference database admissable in a court of law currently exists.

"The database should significantly improve our chances of successful prosecution," said Barry Fryer, chief superintendent at the RSPCA's Special Operations Unit. "In the past, we have been unable to proceed with cases through insufficient evidence linking the defendants to particular badgers."

In 2003, the RSPCA received 241 complaints of badger digging in the UK.

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