Pensioner fined over wild birds

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A PENSIONER must pay nearly £20,000 after being found guilty of keeping wild birds.

The RSPCA prosecuted Edward William Easter (71), of Hollycroft Road, Emneth. On Thursday he was convicted of 13 charges relating to the possession of wild birds and possession with intent to sell.

King’s Lynn Magistrates Court heard Easter failed to provide adequate evidence that the birds found at his home were legally bred in captivity.

He was fined a total of £9,750 - £750 for each offence - ordered to pay £10,000 costs and was ordered to forfeit the birds subject to the charges and their subsequent offspring.

District Judge Philip Browning said: “It needs to be understood by the bird-breeding community that failure to comply with the law is an offence which carries heavy penalties. I hope that the message will be made clear that those who engage in sale, swaps and so on, asking no questions and without the appropriate documentation do so at their peril.”

He was satisfied Easter was “aware of the requirements of the law and chose to ignore them.”

RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport said: “This is the end of a very long and demanding investigation, but it sends a clear and strong message to those people who think they can get away with keeping birds that can’t be proven to have been bred in captivity.

“It is extremely cruel to put wild birds in such an unnatural environment. The birds are unable to migrate because they are confined and many of them die long before their natural time.

“The trade in wild birds remains a closed ring, with those involved keeping the birds for their own purposes rather than in the interests of animal welfare. We know this practice remains rife and we will continue to prosecute those who fail to prove their birds have been legally bred in captivity.”

Easter denied having a dead wild red-backed shrike, as well as a number of other live wild birds - including goldfinches, nightingales, skylarks, wagtails, stonechats, warblers and shrikes - in September 2009 and June last year.

In mitigation during the four-day trial, Easter said he could tell a wild bird from a captive one and claimed his birds were all settled, showing they were captive bred.

He failed to provide any evidence to back up his claims and the court ruled against him. Easter was acquitted on one similar charge.