DTI001 20_12_17 

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Display birds of prey stolen at Welsh festival

great-grey-owlTHIEVES HAVE STOLEN two valuable birds of prey from the back of a falconer’s van following a display at a festival in Cowbridge, Wales.

An eagle and a great grey owl were taken from the boot of Jason Ashcroft’s car on May 29.

Mr Ashcroft, 44, had been exhibiting some of his birds from Falconry UK at the two-day Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival. He had a static display stand, which allowed the public to see and interact closely with a number of species of birds of prey.

The female bateleur eagle (Terathopius ecaudatus) called Mamba is a parent-reared bird and is microchipped. This species is classified as Near Threatened in the wild and is rare in aviculture.

The second bird taken was a great grey owl (Strix nebulosa) called Misty, who is imprinted on Mr Ashcroft and will be distraught to be separated from him.

Mr Ashcroft told BBC News: “Our bateleur eagle is rare and both birds are valuable, but my main concern is the loss of the amazing relationship we have. The birds are very tame and have been trained over many years to bond with me. That is priceless.”

After a successful couple of days at the food festival, Mr Ashcroft was packing up his van and had placed the two birds in their black transportation boxes in the back of his trailer. The boxes are heavy, so it is believed that the thieves put them straight into a waiting car before driving off.

Mr Ashcroft took to social media to plead to the criminals: “The police have been informed and these birds are unusual, one of them is quite rare, so if you’re thinking of selling them on I will find out.”

South Wales Police is investigating the incident and is appealing to anyone who may have any information to come forward.

A police spokeswoman said: “The birds were stolen on Sunday afternoon as their owner, who was exhibiting at the event, was loading equipment in to a trailer. Both were taken in heavy, black transportation boxes.”

● If you attended the food festival and witnessed anything suspicious related to this crime, please call police on 101 and quote the reference number 1700205677. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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