What is it about?

How easy a fingerprint is to develop depends on who has deposited it, the material it is on, and the environment to which it has been exposed. Here we show that fingerprints can be recovered from feathers of birds of prey, even after they have been exposed to the Scottish weather for a fortnight or more. Using green fluorescent magnetic powder fingerprints can be recovered with ridge detail possibly sufficient for identification, or a touch mark to aid DNA analysis. The rate of recovery depends on the weather, the duration of exposure and whether the feather has been protected by the undergrowth or local landscape.

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Why is it important?

This work will help prove human involvement in the death of birds of prey and may help identify the culprits. In 2016, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) recorded 81 incidents of killing of birds of prey in the UK, which included 40 confirmed shootings, 22 poisonings and 15 incidents involving traps. There were no successful prosecutions. Video evidence is sometimes not accepted by the courts. This work could also be beneficial to the growing illegal trade where exotic birds are captured, and smuggled around the world for sale.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Environmental effects on magnetic fluorescent powder development of fingermarks on bird of prey feathers, Science & Justice, September 2018, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2018.09.004.
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