It is wonderful to welcome wild birds into your garden and to enjoy watching them feed from the seed that you provide. But if you love the birds then you must not be tempted to capture them and to keep them as pets, even if the species concerned are not endangered. You will be breaking the law and could land yourself in a lot of trouble!
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Under the current legislation a wild bird is defined as any member of any species which is a resident of the UK or which is a resident of or visitor to the European Territory. The only exceptions are game birds as these are only fully protected outside of the shooting season. The birds' nests and eggs are also protected. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or capture any wild bird protected by the act. It is also an offence to remove or damage any nest whilst it is or in use or to remove or damage the eggs of wild birds. You cannot have in your possession any wild bird or any part of a wild bird or any egg or part of an egg which has been taken illegally. You cannot even intentionally disturb any wild bird when it is building its nest or disturb a nest which contains eggs or chicks. The young of wild birds are similarly protected. The penalty for breaking the law is a fine of up to £5, 000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 6 months. It is best for both you and the wildlife if the birds are left in peace! The RSPCA can and will pursue and then prosecute those who are suspected of breaking the law.
Probation Officer Caught Keeping and Selling Wild Birds
Some people just can't stay within the law, even when they have been caught red handed and punished before. Earlier this year probation officer George Oleyede was convicted of keeping and selling wild birds. Given his profession you would think that he would have known better!Oleyede was found guilty of three offences following a two day trial. These were possessing 12 live birds, causing unnecessary suffering by confining them and possessing 2 dead birds. The species concerned were goldfinches, linnets, greenfinches and redpolls. Mysteriously he had pleaded not guilty to the offences despite the evidence gathered by the RSPCA.
George Oleyede was banned from keeping all birds for a period of five years and ordered to complete 160 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2, 560 and so his enterprise was a costly one.
Sadly Oleyede had been prosecuted for similar offences in 2009 when he received a three year ban from keeping birds. Some people never learn! The RSPCA were aware of his previous activities and so were quickly on the case when he started advertising birds for sale once more.