Jailbird: Swiss collector sentenced for filching feathers

July 5, 2017
An unnamed Swiss man was sentenced to three years for stealing the feathers of dozens of birds, including buzzards, red kites and a rare eagle owl

A Swiss hawk enthusiast was on Wednesday sentenced to three years behind bars for stealing more than 10,000 bird feathers worth an estimated $6 million from European museums.

A Basel court found the 45-year-old man, whose name was not given, guilty of aggravated theft and property damage between 2005 and 2012, and handed him a three-year prison sentence, the ATS news agency reported.

The court, which began hearing the case on Tuesday, also sentenced an accomplice to a 15-month suspended prison term.

The man would gain access to ornithology collections at various museums in countries including Switzerland, Germany and Austria, claiming he was doing scientific research, according to ATS.

He would then pluck feathers off exotic and valuable birds, stealing what were described as "very rare and precious objects, of inestimable scientific value".

His victims included red kites and buzzards, a variety of eagle and the endangered Usambara eagle owl of Tanzania.

The man was charged with the of feathers from 127 different species over more than seven years.

According to state prosecutors, the stolen feathers were worth a combined 427,000 Swiss francs ($443,000, 390,000 euros), while the various museums suffered an estimated six million Swiss francs ($6 million, 5.4 million euros) in damages.

Ever since the man's collection of some 10,500 feathers was seized in 2012, he has been undergoing psychotherapy to try to understand what led him to commit the thefts, ATS said.

Explore further: Man sentenced for money laundering in massive hacking scheme

Related Stories

Swiss crack case of parrot egg underwear smuggler

October 17, 2013

Swiss customs authorities said Thursday that they had arrested a bird specialist who smuggled the eggs of protected parrots in his underwear and travelled the globe trading in rare species.

Recommended for you

Scientists edit butterfly wing spots and stripes

September 18, 2017

An international research team working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama knocked-out a single control gene in the DNA of seven different butterfly species. In the Sept. 18 Proceedings of the National ...

Enzyme's worth to biofuels shown in latest research

September 18, 2017

An enzyme discovered at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) proves adept at breaking down cellulose fibers regardless of whether their crystalline structure is simple or highly ...

When it comes to the threat of extinction, size matters

September 18, 2017

Animals in the Goldilocks zone—neither too big, nor too small, but just the right size—face a lower risk of extinction than do those on both ends of the scale, according to an extensive global analysis.

Deep roots in plants driven by soil hydrology

September 18, 2017

Searching for water, some tree roots probe hundreds of feet deep and many trees send roots through cracks in rocks, according to a new study led by a Rutgers University-New Brunswick professor.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.