Police seize illegal stuffed birds in raid on Burnley house

A MAN was arrested and illegal stuffed birds were seized by police during a raid at a house in Burnley.

Wildlife officers from Lancashire Constabulary, special constables and representatives from the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and DEFRA executed a warrant at the property in Glen View Road.

The warrant was the culmination of an investigation, codenamed Operation Flint, into the sale of illegal taxidermy via an online auction site.

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Five birds – two tawny owls, a buzzard, a goshawk and a barn owl – which had all been stuffed were found at the property. The birds of prey are on a protected species list and require a special certificate to be sold legally.

PC Ian Thompson, Pennine Division’s wildlife officer, said: “We will take action against anyone we suspect to be trading illegally and flouting the laws which are in place to protect vulnerable wildlife.

“My advice to people who wish to buy and sell taxidermy is to check that each item has the correct paperwork with it before the sale takes place. Further advice about buying taxidermy can be found on the DEFRA website by following the links to the Animal Health Agency.”

Officers from NWCU and DEFRA were on hand to identify the specimens and confirm whether or not they were on the protected species list.

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Mr Andy McWilliam, an investigator with the NWCU, said: “Without the required government-issued permits, trade in such species is prohibited.

“Permits are there to control trade and ultimately to conserve vulnerable wildlife – without these strict controls some species could become extinct. We are committed to working with the police to enforce this vital legislation.”

The 20-year-old man who was arrested received a caution and had his collection confiscated.

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