A man who stole bird eggs from the countryside and away from their mothers has appeared before court.
Yesterday (Friday 23 April) Terence Potter, 64, of Cumberworth Lane, Huddersfield appeared before Sheffield Magistrates’ Court charged under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981- protection of nests and eggs of wild birds.
The charges were made following Potter’s arrest after a warrant was executed at his property last year.
In April 2020 gamekeepers of Snailsdon, Ladycross and Woodhead Estates notified South Yorkshire Police that a man was on their land acting suspiciously. This followed previous reports of a similar nature of a man believed to be taking eggs from the wild across Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
During the warrant officers seized over 200 eggs alongside associated equipment, books and taxidermy items. An incubator containing seven unhatched eggs was also seized.
Sheffield Rural and Wildlife Crime Officer PC Elizabeth Wilson explains more, she said: “Wildlife crime offences are taken seriously within South Yorkshire.
“We have beautiful countryside that is inhabited by wildlife and it’s our job to protect and preserve the lives of the animals, to protect species from decline, not take or capture them for personal gain.
“During the warrant executed at Potter’s house, we never expected to find viable eggs. I wanted to give the eggs the best chance of survival so wrapped them up and placed them on the heated seats of the police car.
“The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) assisted us during the warrant and arranged for Smiths Nursery in Thorngumbald to care for the eggs until they hatched.
“We were extremely pleased that the eggs survived and four baby chicks; three Golden Plover and one Curlew were able to be released back into the wild in Hull’s countryside.”
Potter was sentenced yesterday (23 April). He was given a 12 week sentence, suspended for a 12 months and ordered to pay £120 costs and £128 victim surcharge, he must also forfeit the eggs and equipment used to commit the offences.
Despite Potter claiming he was a wildlife expert the magistrate took a dim view of this stating that he had not acted in the best interests of the wildlife.
Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “We are pleased with today’s outcome, which sends a strong signal that such thoughtless destruction of wildlife, for personal gain, will not be tolerated. 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. Thankfully, these days egg collecting is largely a thing of the past and court cases like this one are becoming increasingly rare. We are grateful to the individuals who reported this man’s suspicious behaviour, and to South Yorkshire Police for such a thorough investigation.”
PC Wilson continued: “I hope the sentencing of Potter showcases that wildlife crime is not tolerated, and we will take reports seriously and investigate the reports made to us.
“I continue to urge people to report suspicious incidents and behaviour to us via 101 or online”