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Collector put golden eagle in his freezer

(First Edition)

POLICE who raided a bird collector's home found a poisoned golden eagle in his freezer, a court was told yesterday.

A collection of other stuffed birds was found in a bedroom cupboard at Richard Michalek's home, the Sheriff Court at Dingwall, near Inverness, heard.

Michalek, 34, was fined pounds 4,000 after he admitted possessing or controlling birds protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

David Hingston, for the prosecution, described Michalek as a greedy dealer in the illegal trade of stuffed wild birds. Non-protected birds were on display at Michalek's house in Culbokie on the Black Isle, he said. But the search, last January, found other species, including two peregrine falcons, two hen harriers, a merlin, a buzzard and a tawny owl.

He said seven of the species were classed as endangered, and four, including the eagle, were threatened with extinction in Europe. The eagle was poisoned and five other birds shot, but Michalek had said that he did not know who killed them.

Alex Brown, for the defence, told the court that Michalek insisted he was a collector of birds, not a dealer, and said he had not shot or sold any of the birds.

A charge, against his wife Nicola, of perverting the course of justice was dropped.