Seizure of around 5,000 wild bird eggs from Norfolk home is largest in 10 years
PUBLISHED: 14:51 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:49 23 May 2018
A wildlife charity says the seizure of around 5,000 wild bird eggs from a Norfolk home is the largest of its kind in 10 years.
The collection was discovered by police as they executed a search warrant at a property in Newton St Faith on Monday, May 21.
On the same day, a man in his 60s was arrested after being found with a “clutch” of wild bird eggs at Cawston Heath, near Reepham.
He has since been released under investigation.
Mark Thomas, senior investigations officer with the RSPB, said it was the largest seizure of bird eggs for the past decade.
He said: “The number of these types of offences, and the number of collectors has declined massively since the law changed in 2001.
“But East Anglia is still a bit of a hot spot [for egg theft] because there are so many reserves and rare birds.”
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to possess wild bird eggs taken in contravention of the Protection of Birds Act 1954.
Mr Thomas said the introduction of custodial sentences led to a decline in offences.
“They don’t do this for the money,” he said. “It is about a collector being obsessive.
“They drill a hole in the egg and get rid of the embryo, but they can’t display it anywhere.
“So they have to put it in a cabinet and lock it away.”
Mr Thomas said the number of collectors in the UK had shrunk from 120 to just 20 in the past few years.
“It is a small number,” Mr Thomas added. “But as with this example, he had 5,000 eggs so the impact adds up. That’s 5,000 birds which are no longer alive, and those birds would have grown up to produce offspring.
“So the impact is exponential, particularly when you are dealing with rare birds.”
He said marsh harriers and nightjars were commonly targeted by egg thieves.
Police said they were called to Cawston Heath following reports of a man acting suspiciously. He was located by PC Colin Bailey and arrested after being found with the eggs.
His house was then searched, and eggs were found stored in wooden trays and catalogued.
Police said the man was arrested on suspicion of committing offences under the wildlife and countryside act.
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