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Investigation launched into Peak District peregrine falcon egg theft after gamekeepers raise alarm

Updated: May 11, 2021

A police investigation has been launched after gamekeepers in the Peak District raised the alarm following the theft of peregrine falcon eggs from a nest in Holmbridge West Yorkshire. The nest had been closely monitored by local gamekeepers, in partnership with the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group [PDRMG], since mid-March. The monitoring of the nest demonstrated a productive working partnership between the PDRMG and the Peak District gamekeepers, with efforts made from all sides for a successful collaboration. On Monday 19th April, members of the PDRMG had been watching the female peregrine falcon incubating eggs in a nest. When that member returned on 23rd April the same female peregrine falcon was positioned further away from the nest, before she flew out of the clough. This unusual behaviour raised concerns. Local gamekeepers and members of the PDRMG then attended the scene with an approved climber, given the nest’s challenging accessibility. The climber was able to access the peregrine falcon’s nesting ledge and, to everyone’s dismay, confirmed the nest was now empty. There were no visible signs of damaged egg shells, which there would have been in the event of a predation attack. The conclusion by all therefore was that the eggs had been stolen. The theft was immediately reported to the police by both the gamekeepers on the scene and the PDRMG. PC CJ Newsome who is in charge of the investigation today appealed for additional help on social media saying: “sickened to report the theft of eggs from a peregrine falcon nest in the Holmbridge area of Huddersfield between 19/04 and 23/04. Were you in the area during any of this time?”

The theft is a real blow to all the hard work that has gone into the monitoring of the nest from the PDRMG and the gamekeepering community. In 2018 a peregrine falcon nest in a similar site had been monitored and resulted in three young chicks successfully fledging and it had been hoped this nest would achieve similar success. Egg theft is a reoccurring problem that gamekeepers and raptor workers face, particularly when the price of a peregrine falcon can be around the £60,000 mark. The record price reached for a peregrine falcon was $170,000. These are often sold to agents, who then take the birds to the UAE and other places where they are trained as racing birds. In the UAE the President’s Cup, a national falcon competition, has prize money of $7million dollars.

[Infamous egg thief, Terence Potter]

In 2020 serial egg thief Terence Potter was convicted after gamekeepers worked with local police forces in the Peak District to gather evidence of Mr Potter’s activities. The conviction of Mr Potter and other egg thieves has led to animosity and threats of reprisals against moorland estates where incidents have been reported. Anyone with information against the egg thefts should report it by dialling 101 using reference number: 1321019873.


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