A 24 year old man from Burnley has pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the prohibited trade in endangered species. In October 2014, Wildlife Crime Officers from Lancashire Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit executed a search warrant at the home address of Aaron Halstead a taxidermy dealer from Glen View Road, Burnley.
Officers were acting on intelligence that suggested that Halstead was trading on the internet in endangered species without the required permits. During the search officers seized a number of items including, Snowy owls, Leopard skins, Sperm whale teeth and big cat skulls. Evidence gleaned as a result of subsequent enquiries indicated that Halstead had purchased specimens that are included on Annex ‘A’ to the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulation 1997 without permits.
Annex’ A’ species and their derivatives receive the highest level of protection and the trade in such species is strictly controlled. Such a specimen can only be legally used commercially if it is classed being ‘worked’ and is pre-1947 or it is cover by a valid Government issued permit, commonly known as an Article 10 Certificate.
Halstead appeared at Burnley Crown Court on Friday 6th November 2015, where he pleaded guilty to the prohibited purchase of three un-worked Sperm whale teeth, an un-worked Cheetah skull and an un-worked Dolphin skull. He also admitted offering a modern stuffed Snowy owl for sale without a valid permit. Halstead pleaded not guilty to purchasing 4 x Leopard skins, which the prosecution accepted.
Judge Beverly Lunt pointed out that Halstead had received a Police caution for similar offence in 2011. She adjourned the case for a pre-sentencing report to be prepared, and told Halstead that all sentencing options were open, including prison.