A DNA breakthrough is hoped to help boost conviction rates for wildlife crime, including the persecution of birds of prey.

Researchers have found human DNA can be recovered from traps outside for at least 10 days.

It can also be traced from rabbit baits and bird carcasses at crime scenes for at least 24 hours.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said it is hoped the discovery will give a new way to track wildlife criminals.

She said: "Poisoning, trapping and shooting are all methods used to illegally target birds of prey, however investigations can often be hampered by a lack of evidence.

"This new research will unlock the potential of using DNA profiles to track criminals and could play a crucial role in helping secure convictions for wildlife crime."

The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland research was carried out by the Scottish Police Authority's (SPA) forensic services, the Scottish Government and the University of Strathclyde.

Steven Ferguson, lead forensic scientist at SPA forensic services, said the research means the same techniques used to solve crimes including housebreaking and murder will be able to be used "to identify those involved in persecuting birds of prey".

Detective Chief Superintendent David McLaren said: "The illegal use of traps are often used in remote places. This makes the collection of evidence extremely challenging.

"This new technique will advance our ability to collect human DNA from illegally-set traps."