Norfolk bird-breeder accuses RSPCA of intimidation
A retired schoolteacher charged with possessing wild birds has accused the RSPCA of 'intimidating' bird breeders across the country.
Edward William Easter, 71, of Hollycroft Road, Emneth, near Wisbech, appeared at King's Lynn Magistrates' Court yesterday for the start of his trial on six wild bird charges.
Hazel Stevens, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the allegations relate to two visits to the 71-year-old's home by the RSPCA in 2009 and 2010.
She said the first visit on September 23, 2009 saw a 'variety' of birds examined before a number were seized because the RSPCA believed the birds were wild.
Giving evidence yesterday, Easter said he began keeping birds 40 years ago and is a member of the British Bird Council and a 'well respected' bird breeder.
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Easter said the unannounced visit from the RSPCA in 2009 came after he offered to re-home a few red-backed shrikes due to be destroyed.
'I left them with the offer and then a few weeks later I had a visit from the RSPCA and they looked around my premises before examining about 17 birds,' he said. 'In my opinion they just wanted to find something incriminating but they didn't find anything like mist nets or trap cages because I don't have them.'
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Easter also told the court why he has refused to reveal the identities of fellow bird breeders.
He said: 'I don't want to give any names to the RSPCA because some time in the future they will visit these people and put them through the same trauma I'm going through.
'These are friends I have had for the last 20, 30 and 40 years. I have got nothing to hide but here I am in the dock and the same would happen to my friends even though they have nothing to hide. It's happening all over the country and people are being intimidated and stop keeping birds.'
He added it would be easy to spot a wild bird from a captive one by their erratic behaviour but all his birds are 'very settled'.
Easter denies having a dead wild red-backed shrike as well as 15 other live wild birds on September 13, 2009. He also denies the allegations that he had three wild goldfinches and two wild garden warblers for the purpose of sale. He has also pleaded not guilty to having eight wild stonechats on June 22, 2010.
The trial continues.