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Conviction for English Egg Collector

He ‘exported’ crimes to Bulgaria

Conviction for English egg collector who ‘exported’ crimes to Bulgaria

An English egg collector has been handed a six month prison sentence, suspended for three years, and a 5000 Lev (£2024) fine after pleading guilty to the illegal possession of 16 birds’ eggs and three taxidermy specimens by a court in Burgas, Bulgaria, today. This follows a lengthy investigation by the Burgas Police, assisted by The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), and the RSPB.

Jan Frederick Ross, formerly from Bury, Greater Manchester, is believed to have moved to Bulgaria around 2004 following a trio of convictions for egg collecting in the UK. After reports that Ross was continuing his illegal collecting overseas in Bulgaria, a Bulgarian police investigation proceeded following approaches from the BSPB and RSPB.

In December 2011, Ross’ seafront apartment in Burgas was raided by the police supported by representatives from BSPB and RSPB. Only 16 birds’ eggs were found, all taken during 2011, including the egg of a griffon vulture, a rare breeding bird in Bulgaria (60 pairs) and with additional legal protection. Furthermore a selection of climbing equipment used to access sites of cliff and tree nesting sites was found during the raid.

The investigation also uncovered detailed diaries and photographs, hidden behind artwork on the lounge wall, which suggested that Ross’ egg collecting in Bulgaria stretched further than the 16 eggs found at his apartment. The diaries revealed over a thousand potentially illegally collected bird’s eggs including a number of very rare breeding birds such as a clutch of eggs from the globally endangered Egyptian vulture (24 pairs in Bulgaria) and three clutches of the imperial eagle (24 pairs in Bulgaria). No charges could be brought against Ross for taking of these eggs and the location of them remains unknown.

Dimitar Gradinarov, a Bird Crime Officer for BSPB, said: “We are very grateful for the fantastic response from the police in Burgas and the specialist help from the RSPB who have years of experience dealing with such crimes. We have been working incredibly hard to protect the imperial eagle, Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture and others birds in Bulgaria. It was shocking to see just how much damage one man could do to rare breeding birds in our country. We hope that this case will emphasise the importance of tackling wildlife crimes in our country and to remind the Bulgarian authorities the need to have the necessary resources for this work”.

Guy Shorrock, a Senior Investigations Officer for the RSPB, added: “Ross has exported egg collecting to Bulgaria. He plundered eggs of rare birds from the Bulgarian countryside as he could operate below the radar of the authorities had no knowledge of this strange crime. This has been a lengthy and difficult investigation and we are grateful for the tremendous help from the police in Burgas and our partners at BSPB. Without their determined efforts Ross would never have been brought to justice. We believe Ross still holds a substantial egg collection somewhere in Bulgaria, including many eggs previously taken in the UK.”

NB Ross had three convictions in the UK between 1999 and 2003. In April 1999 he was convicted at Bury Magistrates of possession and taking eggs (including osprey, red kite, peregrine and Slavonian grebe) and fined £4800. In January 2000, at Oban Sheriff Courts he was fined a further £750 for having egg collecting equipment having been caught on the island of Mull in March 1999 near a white-tailed eagle nest. In August 2003, at Inverness Sheriff Court he was fined a further £1500 for the possession of bids’ eggs which had been found in a hidden compartment under the bonnet of his car in Highland, Scotland. Whilst these details were provided to the Bulgarian Authorities, it is understood the court in Burgas was not able to take these matters into consideration when sentencing.

RSPB

23rd October 2014