Easter is on the doorstep, birds are nesting, some have already laid eggs, and the national campaign to protect them is now underway.
A new element to this year’s operation will target those who take the eggs or chicks of birds of prey, to sell to illegal falconries.
Operation Easter will, for the first time, be run by the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), based in Livingston, West Lothian. The operation, launched in Scotland 16 years ago, is now UK-wide and Tayside Police, who used to manage it, have handed over responsibility to the Unit.
“Egg collecting continues to pose a very real threat to rare and famous Scottish species such as the osprey, the white-tailed eagle, the peregrine falcon to others such as the less well-known Slavonian grebe and black-throated diver,” said Environment Minister and Chair of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse.
“Much progress on stamping out this inexcusable damaging practice has been made in recent years, but some egg thieves are still known to be operating. I welcome the police’s continued crackdown on these wildlife criminals through campaigns like Operation Easter, and I hope that this type of criminal offence can soon be consigned to history.”
Detective Inspector Nevin Hunter, head of the NWCU, said, “Many bird species are becoming less common for a number of ecological reasons. They can well do without the added pressure of egg thieves and illegal disturbance. The latter is particularly worrying as we are increasingly receiving reports that egg collectors have moved into this area of activity. We will do everything possible to gain good intelligence that brings these wildlife criminals before the court.”
Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations for RSPB Scotland, said, ”Operation Easter continues to be an excellent example of multi-agency, partnership working and has achieved considerable success in reducing the theft of the eggs of some of our rarest species. However, as the ongoing case at Inverness Sheriff Court shows, we cannot afford to be complacent. RSPB Scotland welcomes the continued commitment of the police, NWCU and Scottish Government to protecting nests from those criminals who wish to destroy our wildlife.”
Collecting wild birds’ eggs is illegal, and a serious crime of which the police say it remains the pastime of some determined individuals, who take whole clutches of birds’ eggs from some of Scotland’s rarest birds with potentially devastating impacts upon some endangered species. The eggs are then stored in secret collections.
Published on aliveradio.net