Bedfordshire man sent to jail for dealing in stuffed raptors, while those who poison, trap or shoot them receive community service in most cases.

Bedfordshire man Greg Turner, aged 32 of Astwood Close, Potton, appeared at Luton Crown Court after stuffed birds of prey were found at his home. The birds included, owls, a Red Kite, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine Falcon. After pleading guilty to 13 offences involving the illegal trade of endangered species, including selling more than one hundred stuffed birds on a website auction Turner was jailed for eight months today (Friday February 10) at Luton Crown Court. What a pity those responsible for the illegal poisoning of dozens of rare and endangered birds are seemingly nearly always given a few hours of community service for their illegal actions.  

The court heard how Turner netted more than £20,000 selling stuffed Barn Owls, Goshawks and other birds of prey to customers as far away as the USA and Canada. But the birds were dispatched by the father-of-one with fake paperwork after being sold on eBay, Luton Crown Court heard.

When officers from the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) swooped on his flat in St Peter’s Court, Ashwood Close, they found 12 stuffed owls and other birds.

Prosecuting, Peter Shaw said: “Two dead birds were in his freezer waiting to be stuffed.”

The sale of birds of prey in this country is highly regulated, he said, in order to protect birds of prey from being illegally killed so they can be stuffed and sold to collectors.

Those selling stuffed birds of prey have to show they were not been deliberately killed in the wild.

Any one wishing  to sell a stuffed bird of prey must first obtain a certificate costing £25 from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for each sale which is dispatched with the animal.

Judge Stuart Bridge was told that Turner, an unemployed stuffed bird enthusiast, had been behind 141 eBay sales and, of those, 109 had not had authentic Defra certificates.

Birds of prey had been sold often accompanied by a bogus photocopy of a certificate which had been altered, Mr Shaw said.

The court was told during a period from March 2009 to August 2010 when he was arrested, Turner’s illegal sales of stuffed birds was worth £22,000.

Phillipa Ellis defending said: “His instructions are that all birds were lawfully obtained.” She said Turner would place adverts for people who were likely to come into contact with dead bids of prey to bring them to him and he would then take them to a taxidermist to be stuffed.

At first she said Turner had obtained valid certificates but when the price went up he started issuing phonies by photocopying an original.

Turner pleaded guilty to 12 counts of being concerned in the prohibited sale of a specimen contrary to controls of trade in endangered species.

He admitted a further charge of fraud.

Sentencing him, Judge Bridge told him: “In my judgement this was your livelihood, illegally trading in stuffed specimens. “It was pre planned, blatant and calculated and put live birds at risk. “You took a risk hoping you would not be noticed. “I am told that you have ceased trading and are in work but the seriousness of the offence can only be adequately reflected by immediate custody.”

3 comments to Bedfordshire man sent to jail for dealing in stuffed raptors, while those who poison, trap or shoot them receive community service in most cases.

  • None of this surprises me. It seems that destroying our wonderful wildlife is no big deal unless the person involved is directly profiting from it. A pile of poisoned harriers, goshawks, kites, and buzzards is nothing to get worked up about. However, stuff and mount them, then sell them on and you get locked up, not because you had anything to do with their deaths, but because you made money out of them.

    I have to wonder what would have happened to this offender if he could have proved that taxidermy was just his hobby, (no pun intended) and that he gave the mounted specimens to friends and family completely free of charge. Would he have received a small fine or community service for a paperwork offence? As for Judge Bridge stating that this crime put live birds at risk, someone needs to talk to his honour about game shooting and keepering.

    Editor’s comment.Thank you Doug for what we here at RP all consider to be logical and wise comments. Could not agree more with what you have said.. thank you. Editor.

  • we have to save wildlife, we love the creature, and do not destroy it.

  • Beverley

    I completly disagree with your comments Doug, as the Landlord of the property he was using. Mr Turner was renting the property off me and I was not informed by the police when he was arrested and am completly sickened by what Mr Turner was doing in my Flat…without my permission. What Mr Turner did is complety wrong whether he sold the birds or gave them away. Mr Turner left my property in a dreadful state and owes money to just about everyone you can think of. He is a dishonest man and deserves being locked up. The judge can do nothing about game shooting or Keepering and it is a niave comment to think he can.