Suspected peregrine nest robbery: NWCU appeals for info one year on

The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and Cheshire Police are appealing for information about a suspected peregrine nest robbery in May 2016.

The following press release was posted on the NWCU website yesterday:

Peregrine falcons have regularly nested on property owned by Railtrack at Dutton Viaduct in Cheshire.  However, nesting attempts have failed for 9 successive years.  Human interference has been suspected on a number of occasions.

Overnight 1st to the 2nd May 2016 (please note this is 2016) the nest failed.  On this occasion, the images of three men were captured on a trail camera that had been placed on land owned by Railtrack near to the nest.  In the early hours of the morning of 2nd May 2016 the three men were pictured heading up towards the nest site.  A short time later the same men triggered the camera as they headed back down the same route.

There is no public right of access and there seems no legitimate reason why these men should be at the location.

Cheshire Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit would like to speak to the men shown in the images below in order to ascertain whether they have any information relating to the failure of the nest.


Peregrine falcons, their nests and eggs receive the highest level of protection and it is an offence to take, kill or injure the bird, take or possess their eggs or to disturb them whilst they are in or near a nest containing eggs or dependent young.

Anybody with any information should contact the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111


It’s not clear why there has been an interval of one year before this appeal for information was made.

This case, along with the theft of gull eggs from Poole Harbour, featured on yesterday’s edition of Countryfile (available on iPlayer for the next 29 days here). The use of covert camera surveillance on raptor nests was mentioned as “a vital tool” in catching egg thieves red-handed.

They didn’t mention that camera surveillance was also pretty good for catching raptor killers red-handed, but if the footage was filmed on land being used for game bird shooting then every legal obstacle possible would be put in the way of it being used as evidence in court. Funny that.


18 Responses to “Suspected peregrine nest robbery: NWCU appeals for info one year on”

  1. 1 michael gill
    May 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    So was this camera put there with the express purpose of recording criminal behaviour then?

    • 2 Chris T
      May 15, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Possibly. But with landowner permission (Network Rail – not Railtrack which ceased operating in 2002), probably to catch cable thieves. Only other reason would be if NR had an ecologist involved in advance of proposed works.

    May 15, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Why the hell dont they ask for volunteers to protect these sites.It seems the only way,to catch these crooks.Obviously,the evidence from cameras,is thrown out of court,and why oh why are you posting this now,a year after the event.Idid see the report on countryfile

  3. 4 Thomas David Dick
    May 15, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    I was extremely annoyed to see that old chestnut of chicks being worth £10,000 each, used on this programme – thats just plain wrong…but it sends a message out to every petty thief in the country to try their hand at peregrine theft..it also makes conservationists look stupid in the eyes of the falconry world and causes confusion in court cases…..legitimate captive bred young peregrines can be bought online for a few hundred pounds…and even the twisted fools who want a “wild taken” peregrine would never pay such a huge amount. Disgusted with this..some of us spent years trying to get that across to police, courts and the public.

    • 5 Andrew
      May 15, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Agree with Dave although females are now fetching more money but nothing like 10k and that is for legally bred birds.
      Shame countryfile is not so critical of raptor persecution on shooting estates.

      • 6 dave angel
        May 15, 2017 at 5:15 pm

        I thought the point was that there was a premium paid for wild birds by people in the middle east for whom the sums involved are trivial, hence the silly prices. Presumably there’s no chance though that an opportunist thief would be able to supply that market. The birds would more or less be stolen to order.

      • May 15, 2017 at 6:16 pm

        Possibly because Countryfile is aimed at Daily Mail readers…

      • 8 Mike Haden
        May 15, 2017 at 7:21 pm

        Egg theft is historically a more working class pursuit therefore society must route out these ner-do-wells.

      • 9 Nimby
        May 15, 2017 at 8:17 pm

        They were asked when they were going to provide an update about illegal raptor persecution on upland grouse moors …. deafening silence again!

        Sheer hypocrisy on the issue of covert camera evidence is bewildering in the least and certainly open to ‘interpretation’?

  4. 10 chris lock
    May 15, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    They muat be able to identify these people as they do not have their faces covered, if they can’t why not?

  5. May 15, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I don’t understand why the Crown Office won’t accept camera footage recording wildlife crime. If it was child protection rather than raptor protection they would accept it.

  6. 12 Gerard
    May 15, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Yeah blame Arabs and small time petty criminals, whilst the true magnitude of the problem isn’t even acknowledged. It always flabbergasted me why the police are so keen on stopping poaching too. One law for the rich and another for the poor. Saying this though, people trading in wild peregrines should be stopped at all costs and given the same treatment that should be dished out to those who are currently above the law.

  7. 13 s Mce
    May 15, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Disgusting evil men 😠 hope they end up jail.

  8. 14 Dougie
    May 15, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    “The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and Cheshire Police are appealing for information about a suspected peregrine nest robbery in May 2016.”

    This happened a year ago ??? WTF is going on.

  9. 15 Falcon watcher
    May 15, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Pure Female peregrines are fetching a massive price at the moment with nearly all of them heading to the middle east for falcon racing somone on Facebook page offering £4000 each for as many 2017 female peregrine falcons and it’s not a windup.Males can be bought relatively cheap .

    • 16 Chris
      May 16, 2017 at 12:01 am

      It’s true that some peregrines can sell for £4000, but the arabs will not buy just any peregrine for that price. Those from established bloodlines proven for size and speed will be snapped up, Others not so much. Be aware also that for the past 10 to 15 years, arab money has set up a number of breeding programmes in the UK, and that number has been increased significantly over the last few years. I would there will be a small number taken from the wild, and it should not happen, it isn’t necessary anymore. This number will though, be very small compared to the number illegally killed, and through natural losses.
      Balance this against the number rescued/recovered, and re-habilitated by falconers, and the picture looks a bit different to the one some people would have you believe.

  10. 17 Maggie Gaynor
    May 15, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    An appeal for witnesses one year later……. how long have police had the images………complete lip service.

    Even a layperson can see that waiting this long reduces the chances of recovering cooroberative evidence.

    Forensic evidence

    I wonder if NWCU or police have made any attempt to involve other agencies in this investigation. Suspect not.

    Artificially inflating the value of peregrine eggs and chicks is naive indeed and counter productive.

  11. May 15, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    A year on……woosh! I wonder if they have noticed that Shergar is missing?

    I presume that they have given up but they are just releasing the pics as deterrent to the same folk who are no doubt planning this years raids….

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