Thursday, 20 June 2013

Egg theft leaves Durham Little Tern colony facing extinction

Frankly, it was gut-wrenching to hear that the colony of Little Terns on Crimdon beach, County Durham had been subject to a massive egg theft. Durham Heritage Coast wardens estimated that around fifty eggs were taken from sixty-five nesting pairs overnight on Wednesday. It must have been a grim realisation for them to arrive early yesterday and find the colony stripped - hours of hard conservation work gone to waste in a matter of minutes thanks to one appalling act of selfishness and greed.

Little Terns from the Iris galleries (© Steve Seal)

In 2012, 110 pairs of Little Terns at Crimdon failed to raise a single chick due to natural predation, and 2013 has seen far fewer pairs nesting there. This is an absolutely massive set-back for the future of the colony and extinction seems a genuine possibility. Niall Benson, Durham Heritage Coast officer explained that “There’s only one set of large footprints, so it is a man and likely to be a single person.”

One set of footprints! It's incredible just how destructive humans can be in such a short space of time. The sad reality, though, is the eggs are highly unlikely to be solely for a personal collection and will no doubt be sold for hefty sums to like-minded collectors.

Inspector Dave Coxon, of Durham Police, said: "We are currently working with members of our Coastwatch scheme to identify any suspicious behaviour and, as with any report of theft, we will investigate it thoroughly and aim to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Anyone who might have any information at all should contact Durham Police.

Read more on the BBC website or Journal Live.

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