Operation Easter - 26 years of stopping egg thieves and egg collectors
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The national enforcement campaign to protect our nesting wild birds is under way for 2023.
Egg thieves will go to any lengths to raid the nests of rare wild birds. Operation Easter is determined to stop them in their tracks.
The taking of wild bird eggs is a serious crime yet it remains an illicit hobby for some determined individuals. Whole clutches of eggs can be taken from some of the UK’s rarest birds with potentially devastating impacts. The eggs are stored in secret collections.
Detective Inspector Mark Harrison from the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) said: “Operation Easter has stood for over a quarter century and this is a vital piece of police work that could easily go overlooked.
"This year we are stepping up our attempts to protect the UK’s rarest birds of prey from would be thieves as we have seen the increase in wild taken chicks and eggs that have entered the legitimate falconry industry. This criminality causes us some concern for the ongoing nature status of the some of the world’s most iconic birds of prey.
"The NWCU co-ordinate the policing response, ensuring dedicated Police Wildlife Crime Officers from the participating UK police forces receive an up to date intelligence briefing, problem solving plans and access to specialist investigators from the NWCU.
"As always, the success of this operation relies of the public who are our eyes and ears and our key partners who raise the profile of such crimes to keep them a priority for UK wildlife crime policing”.
Operation Easter was developed in Scotland 26 years ago. The operation is now facilitated by the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) in conjunction with police forces and partner agencies across the UK. The operation targets egg thieves by sharing intelligence and supporting enforcement action.
In recent years the operation has also been expanded to cover some emerging trends of criminal behaviour such as the online trade in eggs and the disturbance of nests for photography.
If you have any information on egg thieves, or those who disturb rare nesting birds without a license, you should contact your local police by dialing 101 - ask to speak to a wildlife crime officer if possible. Nesting will be in full swing in April so please contact the police if you see anyone acting suspiciously around nesting birds.
Information can also be passed in confidence to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.