More than 270 birds seized during operation to stop wild bird trade

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

A two-year operation by the RSPCA, targeting the illegal trade of wild birds, has led to a man from Kent being fined.

The charity's Special Operations Unit joined police during a raid on a pub to infiltrate a group who met to trade illegally captured birds.

CCTV footage showed the men, trying to flee from the police.

  • Ian Briggs, RSPCA

The teams also searched three properties and found multiple illegally-captured birds. It included a collection of almost 200 at a house in Essex.

In total, seventeen men have been prosecuted for their involvement, following a two-year investigation.

Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA, says: "The people who trap the wild birds will target hobbyist keepers, so people who as a hobby will keep and display birds, whether it's canaries or British birds".

"And it's these sort of people that are targeted by these individuals who will try and pass off these birds as being captive bred".

More than 270 birds, including goldfinches, linnets and a siskin, were seized in one of the biggest ever seizures of captive wild birds in the UK.

The illegal trapping and trading in wild birds has long been a problem. Taking a wild bird from its natural habitat and shutting it in a tiny cage is cruel. These birds can suffer immeasurably, not only physically but also mentally, and they often die shortly after being captured.

Detective Constable Tara Wilson of the Met's Wildlife Crime Unit said: "All wild British birds, their nests and eggs are protected in UK law, birds taken from the wild often get injured and do not live long after capture, due to the shock and trauma from free flying and then being confined to a cage. I hope this case reassures the public we will do everything in our power to detect, deter and disrupt wildlife crime."

All of the wild birds were taken into care by the RSPCA. More than 150 went to the charity's Mallydams Wildlife Centre, in Hastings in East Sussex, where staff set about rehabilitating and releasing them. The crossbred birds and domestic species were successfully rehomed.