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German bird thieves receive suspended jail sentences

A flourishing trade in protected bird species - nests plundered in Germany, Greece and Spain

Rarities in spare tyre compartment – bird trader T. smuggled complete broods with nests from Scandinavia to Germany  in his converted VW vanRarities in spare tyre compartment – bird trader T. smuggled complete broods with nests from Scandinavia to Germany in his converted VW vanTwo bird traders from Münsterland in western Germany plundered the nests of rare bird species over a period of several years and made large profits from their sale. The two men , travelling in their converted VW van equipped with concealed incubators, carried out nest raids along the Schleswig-Holstein coast, as well as in Lower Saxony, Greece, Scandinavia and Spain. Subsequently the stolen eggs or chicks were smuggled into Münsterland and sold via the internet. In March 2012 the Münster regional court found the 63 and 59 year old accused guilty of numerous offences against the Federal Nature Protection Law and sentenced each of them to a two year suspended jail term and 250 hours social work. They were also ordered to pay the costs of the trial, amounting to some 95,000 Euros. The sentence followed a mammoth trial, in the course of which overwhelming evidence against the men was presented by the prosecution. The men initially denied all the charges made against them, but eventually gave in and confessed to the crimes on the ninth day of the trial, admitting that they had robbed nests of protected and strictly protected bird species

Kentish Plover for 100 Euros

A false floor in the bird smugglers‘ VW vanA false floor in the bird smugglers‘ VW vanOne of the accused had constructed a huge menagerie with dozens of small aviaries and cages in his back garden to accommodate the stolen rare birds, which included Redshank, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Spotted Crake and Hoopoe. The two men had declared to the responsible local council authority that the birds were bred by them, and they were therefore issued with the necessary trading licences. As soon as official approval was given, the birds were advertised and traded on the internet. The price was set according to the rarity of the birds, and ranged between 50 and 1,500 Euros per bird. The authorities, who finally uncovered the swindle, failed to carry out the laid-down checks over a period of several years. Although the Norwegian customs service found the accused T. in possession of more than 100 fresh birds’ eggs on the border to Finland in June 2004, and sent a report to the responsible German authorities, the latter saw no requirement to act and check the supposed breeding station in the man’s home in Metelen. In the meantime the man, together with an acquaintance, founded a breeding society and advertised new birds for sale on an almost weekly basis. They promised delivery of highly endangered species extremely hard to keep and breed. In November 2005 the second accused wrote to an interested party: “ We can provide Kentish Plovers for 100 Euros each – just let us know when you want to collect them”.

Police seize 250 birds

Eggs were smuggled from Scandinavia to Germany in a professional incubatorEggs were smuggled from Scandinavia to Germany in a professional incubatorIn addition to hard cash, the two men gained a high reputation in bird breeding circles. A presentation by T. on “Keeping and Breeding of Shore Birds” was advertised a a highlight of a bird breeding convention in Lower Saxony. The pair from Metelen were acknowledged throughout Germany as experts on the keeping and provision of rare wader species. At no stage did the responsible local authorities carry out the prescribed checks. On 23 June 2005 the Committee Against Bird Slaughter filed an official complaint with the Customs Office in Cologne on the grounds of suspected illegal import and sale of endangered bird species. The investigation was not proceeded with as, according to the authorities, the main accused had already paid a fine in Norway and had therefore been punished for his offences. In the meantime the men continued to offer protected birds for sale on the internet (see table below). Matters began to move again only in 2007 when the state and local CID took over the case. The police struck in summer of that year, after T. and his partner again advertised rare birds including Ringed Plovers, Ruffs and Red-backed Shrikes for sale in the internet. On 8 August some 25 police officers raided and searched the premises of both bird traders. They discovered several large aviaries filled with hundreds of protected song bird species. As many of the birds were not ringed or had false markings, and T. and his partner were unable to provide proof that the birds had been bred legally in captivity,. the police seized more than 250 birds of 20 different species including Terns, Black-winged Stilts, Dippers, Pratincoles, Woodchat Shrikes and even a young Corncrake. In addition the officers confiscated some 20 bird corpses and eggs found in a freezer. The live birds were taken to a bird rehabilitation centre. The Committee estimates that up to this point in time the two accused had conducted a flourishing trade in rare birds and made a profit of hundreds of thousands of Euros over a period of at least five years. The trade in the allegedly home-bred birds was carried out almost exclusively on the internet, on a website devoted to trade in birds and frequented by both serious as well as dubious traders dealing annually with thousands of legally and illegally acquired European bird species.

See also our press release here»»

Large scale marketing in birds – advertisments by the bird trader T. on the internet platform Vogelnetzwerk.de

Date 21.11.2004, 18:35
Category: European birds
Type of ad: For sale
Advertisement: Spotted Crake, Little Grebe, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ruff and Rock Thrush alol home-bred in 2004
Location: D-48629 Metelen
Date: 05.11.2005, 16:12
Category: European birds
Type of ad: For sale
Advertisement: Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Curlew and Golden Plover for sale
Location: D-48629 Metelen
Date: 14.09.2006, 20:00
Category: European birds
Type of ad: For sale
Advertisement: Shore birds for sale: Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Water Rail, Golden Plover, Little Ringer Plover, Kentish Plover, Common and Little Tern.
Location: D-48629 Metelen
Date: 16.09.2006, 17:58
Date: 14.09.2006, 20:00
Category: European birds
Type of ad: For sale
Advertisement: Northern Lapwing, Spur-winged Plover (naturally bred), Water Rail) naturally bred), all for sale
Location: D-48629 Metelen