Above: Little ringed plover eggs at a Devon site that was visited by Jason North in 2016


AN EGG COLLECTOR, who was previously unknown to police, has avoided prison after admitting stealing eggs from Schedule 1 birds in Devon and Scotland.

On May 3, Jason North, 49, from Plymouth, pleaded guilty to eight charges relating to the taking of osprey eggs from the Scottish Highlands, and the disturbance of golden eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon and little ringed plover in Devon during 2016. The four species are listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and offences against these birds can result in up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine per offence.

At Plymouth Magistrates’ Court, Mr North received a six-week jail sentence on each charge suspended for one year and a fine of £665 for taking the osprey eggs. He also landed a 10-week curfew during the nesting season to ensure he remains at home between 9pm-6am.

According to the RSPB, Mr North was trapped by evidence on his own computer, in which a video showed disturbance of a peregrine nest.

In December 2016, hand-written notes, diaries and a computer were seized from Mr North’s home. Following forensic examination, hundreds of digital images and video clips were recovered showing eggs and nests.

The majority of the photographers had GPS coordinates, which enabled Wildlife Crime Officer PC Joshua Marshall and team to locate several of the nest sites. Additional evidence from people monitoring those sites confirmed that eggs had been taken.

PC Marshall explained: “Mr North was unknown prior to this investigation and only brought to account for his illegal activities via a number of diligent members of the public reporting to police confidentially.”

Evidence clearly showed that Mr North had routinely made unlicensed visits to the nests of breeding birds in Devon and Scotland.

RSPB’s investigations unit Jenny Shelton said: “It is particularly worrying when new egg collectors come to light. We are grateful for the fantastic work by Devon and Cornwall Police, plus the support from the Crown Prosecution Service, National Wildlife Crime Unit and numerous people involved in monitoring and protecting these nest sites.”

Anyone who spots suspicious behaviour around birds’ nests should tel: 01767 680 551.

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