Three golden plover chicks and one curlew chick are getting a second chance at life after being found, as eggs, in a property in Huddersfield.
In April, South Yorkshire Police raided a Huddersfield address with the RSPB. Officers seized over 200 birds' eggs and an incubator containing seven unhatched eggs.
The eggs from the incubator were taken to a nursery in Thorgumbald, East Yorkshire, where they were kept until they hatched.
Charles Hardcastle of Smiths Nurseries said:
When we first received the eggs we were concerned they might not hatch. Some of them had cracks in them or were infected and went bad. But these ones did hatch and luckily and we managed to rear three lovely plovers and one lovely curlew. We provided artificial heat and fed them every few hours, then soon they became very independent. We're so pleased with how well they've done.
The chicks have now been released into the wild, and experts say their chances of survival look good.
RSPB Investigations Officer, said:
We're delighted to see a happy end to this story. Thankfully very few egg collecting cases come to light these days, but finding live eggs, which have then gone on to hatch, is unprecedented. Curlews are in dire trouble in England, having declined dramatically in the last 25 years. The RSPB and other conservation organisations are working hard to protect these magnificent birds.
A 63 year-old man remains released under investigation while further enquiries continue between South Yorkshire Police, the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and RSPB.