Emneth bird breeder awaits judge’s verdict on wild bird charges

A breeder in the Fens charged with 16 offences treats his birds as a 'disposable commodity', a court heard yesterday.

Edward William Easter, 72, has been on trial this week at King's Lynn Magistrates' Court for the alleged offences, including the caging of seven wild birds.

Easter, of Hollycroft Road, Emneth, near Wisbech, is also accused of causing unnecessary suffering to several birds in his possession.

The 72-year-old denies the allegations.

Summing up the RSPCA's case, prosecutor Hazel Stevens said the suffering was unnecessary because the bird's conditions were treatable.


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Ms Stevens added that the retired school teacher saw birds as a disposable commodity because he could replace them easily.

Referring to the charges of possessing wild birds, she said: 'It is a strict liability offence and it's the prosecution's case that there is no evidence which proves the birds in question were bred in captivity.'

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Nigel Weller, for Easter, told the court he believed behavioural changes were the main indicator of suffering in animals and in this case, he argued, none of the birds changed their behaviour.

'Suffering has to be observable,' Mr Weller said. 'Unless there is a sign of suffering, the owner cannot do anything.'

He added there must be evidence of 'pathological, morphological and behavioural changes' to enable a judge to decide if birds are suffering unnecessarily and said no such evidence had been put forward by the prosecution.

Easter is accused of having two wild red-backed shrikes, a wild stonechat, three wild goldfinches, and a wild grey wagtail in his possession on September 19 last year.

He is accused of causing unnecessary suffering to a red-backed shrike between September 23, 2009 and July 15, 2011 by failing to provide appropriate treatment for a severe fungal dermatitis.

He is also accused of causing unnecessary suffering to another red-backed shrike between June 24, 2011 and July 15, 2011 by failing to provide appropriate treatment for a parasitic mite infestation causing a skin condition.

Easter is alleged to have not taken steps to ensure the needs of two grey wagtails and two yellow wagtails were met by providing appropriate husbandry and management to prevent disease between September 23, 2009 and July 15, 2011.

He is also alleged to have caused unnecessary suffering to a red-backed shrike by failing to provide treatment for severe fungal dermatitis and another red-backed shrike and a grey wagtail between September 23, 2009 and September 19, 2011 by failing to provide adequate parasitic control.

District judge Peter Viets will pass judgment on these charges today.

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