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Man facing prison for catching 13,000 birds

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Man facing prison for catching 13,000 birds
14:09 CET+01:00
A Swedish man has been charged for catching and holding thousands of birds in Hälsingland in eastern Sweden.

The 40-year-old man from near Hudiksvall on Sweden's east coast has been charged with aggravated hunting crimes, animal cruelty, and protected species crimes.

According to prosecutor Christer B. Jarlås, the man's aviary obsession apparently began as a simple hobby before spiraling out of control.

"He said himself during questioning that he has a great interest in birds which managed to get out of hand," Jarlås told the TT news agency.

The man's odd habits were discovered last June when the police received an anonymous tip.

When police then searched the man's home, they found hundreds of living and dead birds. In addition they found a mink and a European polecat and a mink running loose on the man's glassed in balcony.

An egg-decorating machine, nets, and computer equipment were also confiscated in the raid.

Jarlås argued that the man should be sent to prison for at least 2.5 years .

"As far as I know, this is the most comprehensive hunting crime and the most comprehensive protected species crime we have ever had in Sweden," he said in a statement.

"These offences merit a stiff penalty. The maximum punishment is up to four years, and this case should be at least around two years and six months."

According to the indictment, the 40-year-old is believed to have been hunting and catching birds since January 2005 until being caught in June 2010. He has also suspected of taking eggs and baby birds from nests.

As evidence, Jarlås plans to use a meticulous database kept by the man which includes notes of the 13,983 birds and eggs taken by the man.

Included in the notes are descriptions of how he caught several species of owls, eagles, hawks, woodpeckers and geese, some of which are protected species.

While the man admitted he is guilty of hunting and protected species crimes, he argues that the violations shouldn't be considered severe.

According to Dennis Kraft, chairman of the Swedish Ornithological Society (Svenska ornitologiska föreningen), the man's compulsive bird collecting likely had a negative impact on the populations of a number of rare bird species.

”Especially the three-toed woodpecker and the eagle-owl which we have been working hard to help recover after they almost disappeared in the 1990s due to environmental pollutants,” he told TT.

“And although some of the birds caught belong to more common species, he has still made them suffer by putting them in cages.”

According to Kraft, the man's behaviour is extremely unusual.

“The extent of the number of birds that this guy collected is a bit terrifying. Thankfully this is pretty unusual. We don't come across this type of collectors very often," he said.

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