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Neglect of hawks: Cornwall man banned from keeping birds

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 5:09pm 8th February 2019. (Updated at 6:10pm 8th February 2019)

A man from Cornwall has been banned from keeping birds for 15 years after Harris hawks in his care were subjected to prolonged neglect. 

Mark Anthony Thomas, of Wesley Court, Pensilva, Liskeard pleaded guilty to four charges when he appeared before Bodmin Magistrates Court on Thursday (7 February).

The 45-year-old was also given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for twelve months, and ordered to pay £250 costs and a £115 victim surcharge. 

It's after an inspector from the RSPCA rescued hawks who were in Thomas' care after his failure to meet the birds' multiple welfare needs. 

Their needs including a suitable environment, suitable diet, reasonable supervision and the provision of veterinary care were not met. 

One hawk named Storm was found deceased. Storm was found to be extremely underweight and had a foot infection called bumblefoot on both feet. 

A post mortem confirmed Storm was in poor bodily condition due to malnutrition, with muscular atrophy and faecal staining to feathers. 

Two other hawks were found underweight and with health problems as a result of a failure by Thomas to meet their needs over a number of months. 

Both have been left with lifelong conditions including liver problems and poor feather quality. 

RSPCA Deputy Chief Inspector Suzy Hannaby, who investigated for the charity, said:

“Harris hawks are fantastic birds, they are social, intelligent and adaptable. They can easily live twenty years. Unfortunately they are all too easy to obtain, frequently bought and sold, and often end up in the wrong hands.

“Going on a course or reading a book is no substitute for practical experience with someone knowledgeable who can mentor over time but it must be someone who truly knows how to care for and train these birds and understands how to meet their complex needs.

“Thomas claimed to be experienced in falconry and offered to train people who thought they were correctly learning best practice from him. He let them down, just as he let the birds down.”

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