It’s sounds like an episode of the popular TV show "C.S.I." — but in a real life case — the Iowa Department of Natural Resources used DNA. to nail a turkey poacher. D.N.R. wildlife bureau chief, Dale Garner says the case began March of this year with an anonymous tip that a man had illegally taken wild turkeys.
A conservation officer went to Mike Jones’ home in Decatur County and found what he believe to be wild turkey meat in the freezer. Garner says Jones claimed the meat was from domestic birds. He says they now have the technology to run tests like you see on C.S.I., it doesn’t work quite as fast as on TV, but does work.
Garner says they decided to use science to settle the issue. He says they were able to extract tissue samples and DNA. in the freezer and determined that they were indeed wild turkey.
Garner says without the DNA. tests, it would be one person’s word against another, and they couldn’t have positively said the meat was wild turkey. Garner says if you have the whole turkey carcass, there is a way to tell if it’s a wild or domestic bird, but with just the meat, there’s no way to tell.
Garner says Jones and his brother, Jerry, were acquitted on reasonable doubt in a similar case involving the origin of turkey meat in their possession back in 1993 when D.N.A. testing was not available. This time Jones decided he couldn’t beat the DNA.
Garner says once the evidence was entered into court, Jones changed his plea. Garner says the turkey meat was sent to a Utah lab that’s been doing DNA. research on turkeys for the National Turkey Federation. He says the DNR can use DNA testing in other ways too.
Garner says the testing plays an important role in dealing with diseases in animals, such as avian influenza, and allows them to help pinpoint diseases to specific animals. As for the turkey case, Jones accepted a plea agreement that included paying some of the cost of the DNA testing.