Community order for men caught trading wild Peregrine Falcons


Two men were handed community service orders after pleading guilty to possessing and trading 22 wild Peregrine Falcons in Scotland.

Timothy Hall and his son Lewis were found in possession of several live Peregrines and eggs at a property in southern Scotland. The men had claimed that all were captive-bred birds but DNA analysis proved they were unrelated to the captive adult falcons purported to be the parent birds. However, DNA of two of the chicks matched that of two wild adult Peregrines.

It is unclear who stole the chicks, but they are all believed to have originated from nests in southern Scotland.

The RSPB is calling for appropriate sentencing guidelines and a return to mandatory registration of captive-bred Peregrine Falcons (John Rowe).


Wildlife criminals getting off lightly

Mr Hall and his son must fulfill 220 hours and 150 hours of community service respectively, following the order on 12 February. They pleaded guilty to the offences at Jedburgh Sheriff Court in December 2023.

The RSPB pointed out that the lack of sentencing guidelines means that punishments for wildlife crimes vary considerably and are not always reflective of the seriousness of the crime. A case heard at Derbyshire Magistrates Court in January led to a man being sentenced to eight weeks in prison for taking one clutch of Peregrine eggs.

The UK Government removed the requirement for full registration of captive-bred Peregrines in 2008, opening the doors for criminals to launder wild-caught falcons into the legal commercial falconry trading. Wild birds, considered of superior quality, are popular with buyers in the Middle East.

The RSPB is calling for a return to the registration of captive-bred birds and the introduction of a compliance and enforcement programme incorporating DNA testing.

Mark Thomas, UK Head of Investigations at the RSPB, said: "This recent case highlights that raptor persecution offences which are happening routinely across the UK, are not receiving the proper and necessary punishments even when the evidence is infallible, due to a lack of sentencing guidelines for Judges, Magistrates and Sheriffs.

"Without specific guidelines, the sentencing of crimes relating to the persecution of birds of prey and other wildlife handed down by law courts will continue to misrepresent the impact of these offences and will not act as an effective deterrent to those willing to commit these crimes in the first place."