A bird breeder was warned to improve his record-keeping and stay out of trouble after being convicted of caging wild birds and causing unnecessary suffering to three birds.

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Edward William Easter, 72, was given a two-year conditional discharge at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Friday after being found guilty of 10 offences.

Easter, of Hollycroft Road, Emneth, near Wisbech, was convicted of having two wild red-backed shrikes, a wild stonechat, three wild goldfinches and a wild grey wagtail in his possession in September last year.

The 72-year-old was also convicted of causing the unnecessary suffering of three red-backed shrikes by failing to provide appropriate treatment for conditions.

District judge Veits told Easter: “I have convicted you of [these] offences as I consider that in each case you were aware of the injuries to the birds and either failed to treat or treated incorrectly those injuries and infestations.”

Charges against Easter of not taking steps to ensure the needs of two grey wagtails and two yellow wagtails were met by providing appropriate husbandry and management to prevent disease were dismissed.

Easter was also cleared of the allegation he failed to provide adequate parasitic control to another red-backed shrike and a grey wagtail.

Judge Veits continued: “I do not find any maliciousness in your actions. You are undoubtedly an experienced bird breeder and keeper who has pursued your chosen hobby over some 50 years.”

Following the judgment, Hazel Stevens, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said Easter has previously been convicted of caging six wild birds and was ordered to pay more than £20,000 in fines and court costs.

Mrs Stevens also asked for Easter to be disqualified from keeping any species of bird which, under the Countryside and Wildlife Act, is considered wild.

In mitigation, Nigel Weller, representing Easter, said: “Mr Easter is highly thought of in the bird breeding world so to disqualify him would be punitive bearing in mind he has been acquitted of the welfare charges.

“He is a leading expert in red-backed shrikes in this country and doesn’t take losing his birds lightly –they are not disposable commodities to him so I would urge you not to disqualify him.”

As well as the conditional discharge, Easter was ordered to hand over the wild birds and the red-backed shrikes involved in the unnecessary suffering convictions and all their offspring to the RSPCA by August 29.

The retired school teacher was also ordered to pay £7,000 towards prosecution costs but he was not disqualified from keeping any species of birds.

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