Wild bird traders flee with cages as police and RSPCA raid Leytonstone pub

·2-min read

This was the dramatic moment an illegal bird trading ring operating out of an east London pub was busted by police and RSPCA officers.

The men gathering at The Bell’s pub garden were seen throwing cages containing canaries and goldfinches under benches and desperately scattering as their meet-up was crashed by authorities.

Three homes were searched at the same time.

Almost 200 wild birds were found at a property in Essex.

More than 270 birds were seized from the four separate warrants in one of the biggest ever seizures of captive wild birds in the UK, investigators said.

Bird traders flee pub (RSPCA)
Bird traders flee pub (RSPCA)

An RSPCA officer who led the investigation, who cannot be named for operational reasons, said: “When we went into the pub on 2 February 2019 we found a large group of men had congregated inside and outside in the beer garden, many carrying small bird cages. We discovered 40 cages of wild birds including goldfinches, linnets and a siskin, as well as 27 canaries and mules (or crossbred birds).

“We also executed warrants at three private addresses where we found a number of wild birds being kept illegally. At one home, we discovered 190 wild birds being kept in cages, including 165 goldfinches.”

The raid footage was released after the last of 17 men prosecuted for involvement in the wild bird trade was sentenced.

The RSPCA had successfully carried out a two-year investigation.

The animal charity said trapping and trading wild birds was a long-term problem.

“Taking a wild bird from its natural habitat and shutting it in a tiny cage is cruel. These birds can suffer immeasurably, not only physically but also mentally, and they often die shortly after being captured,” said the RSPCA’s Will Mitchell.

The birds were taken into care by the RSPCA.

More than 150 of the birds were going to the charity’s Mallydams Wildlife Centre, in East Sussex.

Staff cared for the birds before getting them ready to be released back into the wild.

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