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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Rare egg collector escapes jail
Falcon chicks (RSPB)
Rare peregrine falcon eggs were taken
A former miner who sold part of a collection of 2,000 rare eggs has received a suspended jail sentence.

Michael Davidson, 57, was convicted at Durham Crown Court on Thursday of selling rare bird of prey eggs.

Recorder Brian Forster QC suspended Davidson's three month prison sentence for 18 months.

Judge Forster said: "Birds are there as part of the natural habitat of this country to be enjoyed by all.

Bird of prey (RSPB)
Birds of prey were targeted

"Your collection contained eggs regarded by you as being trophies, as being prizes of your previous exploits.

"You made a wrong decision, a serious decision, when you decided to sell your collection."

Davidson, of Lanton Street, Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, was prosecuted under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species regulations.

The jury heard Davidson was a prolific egg-collector until the introduction of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Computer files

The act strengthened the penalties for people caught taking birds' eggs.

As a result, Davidson decided to stop stealing eggs and began photographing nests instead.

In 1996 he sold part of his collection of assorted eggs.

When officers from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds raided Davidson's home, they confiscated a computer which contained files documenting the sale.

Harriers and owls

Davidson denied three counts of selling eggs between August and November 1996.

The jury took just half an hour to find him guilty of selling eggs.

The species involved included peregrine falcon, golden eagle, osprey, common buzzard, black kite, marsh harrier, Montagu's harrier, sparrowhawk, kestrel and merlin.

He was also convicted of selling the eggs from barn owls, little owls, tawny owls, long-eared owls and short-eared owls.

Davidson was ordered to pay 1,150 costs.

See also:

30 May 01 | UK
Cameras prey on rare birds
09 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Call to jail bird persecutors
20 Sep 99 | UK
Bird crimes on the increase
02 Jan 99 | UK
Wanted: Bird lovers
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