February 29, 2024

Christopher Wheeldon was sentenced to 18 weeks in jail for descending a cliff on a rope to steal peregrine falcon eggs. Derbyshire Live describes Wheeldon, 34, “drug-addicted tree surgeon.”

According to the Derbyshire Constabulary website, Wheeldon was caught on hidden cameras set up by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) while descending a limestone quarry in April 2023. He stole three Peregrine Falcon eggs, which were not recovered. The buyers of stolen peregrine falcon eggs are often from the Middle East, where there is a significant market for these eggs. The region has a long-standing cultural tradition of falconry, and there is a high demand for rare and high-quality birds, particularly those perceived as having superior genetic traits, like the British Peregrine Falcon.

The Raptor Persecution UK website provided a rap sheet for the raptor persecutor:

He reportedly lost his driving licence for ‘driving with excess drugs’ in 2021 (here) and was charged with attempted robbery of a takeaway in Matlock in January 2023 (here – I don’t know the outcome of that case). In addition, during sentencing yesterday, it emerged that Wheeldon was also convicted of five counts of shop lifting, four of which took place during the first week of January this year.

He actually received a longer sentence for the shoplifting offences (10 weeks) than he did for disturbing the peregrine nest (8 weeks) and stealing the peregrine eggs (another 8 weeks, to run concurrently).

Previously on Boing Boing: Peregrine falcons are the dive bombers of the natural world, flying at speeds over 200 mph to snag their prey.