‘Vast’ egg collection, including hen harrier & osprey eggs, seized by Suffolk Police

Suffolk Police’s Rural, Wildlife & Heritage Team has seized what it describes as a ‘vast’ egg collection in Halesworth. The haul is thought to include clutches of hen harrier and osprey eggs.

The police raid last Friday was part of Operation Easter, a policing initiative that began in Scotland 25 years ago (see here for background) that primarily targets wild bird egg thieves, although in recent years it has been expanded to also cover related crimes such as the online trade in eggs and the disturbance of nests for photography (see here).

This initiative is a good example of partnership-working. It’s facilitated by the National Wildlife Crime Unit that leads on intelligence reports and key partners include UK police forces and the RSPB’s Investigations Team. It’s seen some major successes over the years, with convictions often including custodial sentences, and large numbers of wild bird eggs being taken out of circulation.

More information about illegal egg collections can be found on the RSPB’s website here.

Well done to Suffolk Police’s Rural, Wildlife & Heritage Team for keeping the public informed.

12 thoughts on “‘Vast’ egg collection, including hen harrier & osprey eggs, seized by Suffolk Police”

  1. As an aside to this, and forgive my ignorance, but does anybody know if a DNA sample is taken when tagging a HH chick? And if so, would it be be possible to relate the egg to the mother bird?

    1. Hi Paul,

      You can sometimes extract molecular DNA from fresh egg membrane (depending on how much material is available and how fresh the sample is) but I’d guess that because these eggs will have been ‘blown’ (the contents removed) that getting a DNA sample would be unlikely. I’m not aware that you can get DNA from the shell.

      1. Hi – yes you can get DNA even from historic museum egg shells; working with Stuart Piertney at Aberdeen we got DNA from the only known egg of Jerdon’s Courser, almost 100 years old. There are other examples in the literature.

          1. Yes, it comes from the membrane lining the shell rather than the shell itself. The shell is still lined with a membrane after blowing and cleaning. You usually need to scrape the inside of the shell with a needle to loosen some of the membrane. It can be a hairy exercise with small and delicate shells!

            1. Thanks for that Alan. That then brings up a whole load of other questions, none of which I’ve heard discussed before.
              So going back to my original question, are DNA samples taken at the tagging stage, and if not why not? You’d surely only need a tiny clip of a feather.

      1. Interesting. Thanks David.
        Maybe I’m thinking of writing a book where the gamekeeper tips off an egg collector. He can’t shoot the mother because she’s tagged but……

  2. Interesting stuff and in the face of such vast collections of what in reality a prof of lots of dead chicks it is hard to accept ( if that was ever possible) the weak justification compared to persecution of the birds themselves ” dead birds don’t lay eggs. I assume charges will follow for some egging lowlife.

  3. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx I also note that you say there is are emerging trends of criminal behaviour such as the online trade in eggs and the disturbance of nests for photography. So how many people have been prosecuted for nest photography? I don’t think it can be described as an emerging trend. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    [Ed: ‘Ben’, or should I call you John? The statement about online egg trading and nest photography becoming emerging trends is copied directly from an NWCU press release issued last year to promote Operation Easter. I think I’d trust their analysis and thus informed opinion over yours.

    You also ask how many people have been prosecuted for nest photography? Well you have, for a start!

    The rest of your comment has been deleted as its rude, libellous and to be frank, boring. It always amuses me that idiots like you, who write appalling, disgusting online abuse about me and my colleagues (see link below for just one of many examples), seem to think you’re entitled to come onto this site and continue your abusive behaviour. I’ve got news for you]

    https://wildjustice.org.uk/flak-we-get/do-not-read-if-you-are-easily-offended/

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