The bird, a goshawk, had been owned by the man’s family since the 1960s and was not shot by hunters, but died by other means. But according to laws on the trade in endangered species, the sale of any stuffed protected animal requires permission from the authorities – something the owner of the bird did not know.
The District Court and the Court of Appeal in Upper Norrland had both agreed that while the man had technically broken the laws on protecting endangered species, the circumstances of the case meant he should not receive a criminal conviction or be fined. The courts agreed that the selling the bird had not put endangered species at further risk:
“The purpose of the law is to protect wild animals and plants and to ensure their preservation by controlling the trade in them… The current case relates to a preserved goshawk that had not been killed through hunting. It isn’t a question of organized selling, but is clearly a one-off event,” the District Court said in a judgement.
But despite the fact that the verdict was upheld on appeal, Sweden’s Prosecutor-General now wants the case to be tried in the Supreme Court. Prosecutor Lars Persson argued that the purpose of the Swedish law is not only to protect animals, but also to preserve the authorities’ control over the trade in endangered species. The fact that the man did not apply for permission to sell the bird meant that he should face criminal charges, he said.
The goshawk is a medium-large bird of prey found in large areas of Europe and North America. There are estimated to be 5,000-10,000 breeding pairs in Sweden, although this number is thought to be falling.
The Supreme Court must now decide whether to hear the case. The seller will face fines if convicted.