Arrest warrant issued as man fails to attend court on peregrine egg theft charge

An arrest warrant has been issued for a Derbyshire man who failed to attend court to face charges concerning alleged peregrine falcon egg theft and disturbance of a peregrine nest site.

On 8 September, the Derbyshire Times reported that Christopher Wheeldon, 34, had been arrested after the police received reports that eggs had been removed from a peregrine falcon nest at Bolsover Moor Quarry, to the east of the Peak District.

Wheeldon was charged with disturbing the nesting site of a wild bird, and taking the eggs of a wild bird, and was given a court date of 16 October.

However, Derbyshire Constabulary has confirmed to ENDS that Wheeldon failed to attend his court hearing and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. 

This is not the first raptor egg theft case to face obstacles in Derbyshire. Last year, the trial of a man charged with stealing peregrine falcon eggs collapsed after a judge accused Derbyshire Police of submitting inadmissible evidence.

A judge found the defendant not guilty after his defence lawyer challenged procedural aspects of the police investigation, in particular the arrest and subsequent search of his property. 

It is against the law to disturb peregrine falcons or take their eggs. When it was first reported that eggs from the falcons were being taken at different sites across the Peak District in 2020, Derbyshire Police said that there could be a number of individuals or groups responsible as part of a "black market trade".

David Savage, from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, told the BBC at the time that there is a “lucrative Middle Eastern falconry market allied to this country”.