Wild birds' eggs theft: Huddersfield man sentenced

Image source, RSPB
Image caption,
Officers found 179 black headed gull eggs at the property

A man who stole almost 200 wild birds' eggs has been given a suspended jail sentence.

The eggs were found at Terence Potter's home, near Huddersfield, along with tree-climbing and egg-blowing kit.

Among the eggs were a number of golden plover and curlew eggs found in an incubator, four of which later hatched.

Potter, 64, was given a 12-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, after he pleaded guilty to eight charges relating to the stolen eggs.

Image source, RSPB
Image caption,
Three curlew and four golden plover eggs were found in an incubator at Potter's home
Image source, RSPB
Image caption,
Egg-blowing equipment was also discovered at Potter's home

Sheffield Magistrates' Court heard Potter had been spotted by gamekeepers in the Peak District National Park near Woodhead in April 2020 as he was searching through heather where birds were known to be nesting.

When police later searched his home in Upper Cumberworth, they found 179 black-headed gull eggs as well as those of curlew, golden plover and some overseas species.

The seven eggs found in the incubator were taken to a nursery in Thorgumbald, East Yorkshire, where four chicks hatched and were subsequently released.

Image source, RSPB
Image caption,
Three golden plovers (pictured above) and a curlew were hatched from the eggs seized during the raid

It is illegal to intentionally take or possess the eggs of any wild bird under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The court heard Potter had previously been convicted of egg collecting offences in 2013.

Tom Grose, RSPB investigations officer, said he hoped the sentence would send a "strong signal such thoughtless destruction of wildlife, for personal gain, will not be tolerated".

He added: "Among Potter's collection were seven curlew eggs - these are a declining, red-listed species which conservationists are working hard to bring back from the brink.

"Birds should be allowed to flourish in their natural environment, where they can be enjoyed by all."

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