A Bedford man has been given a suspended prison sentence for keeping wild birds in captivity.
Ariak Parsilyan was prosecuted by the RSPCA after 29 goldfinches and four greenfinches were found caged at his Edward Road home ready to sell on to other bird-fanciers.
The 52-year-old pleaded guilty at Luton Magistrates Court to two charges having in his possession or control live wild birds.
Both offences were contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.
Parsilyan pleaded not guilty to a charge of using ‘bird lime’ or a similar substance to kill or capture a wild bird.
This was dismissed by the court after the RSPCA offered no evidence.
Magistrates sentenced him to six weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, for possessing the 29 goldfinches.
He was given the same sentence, to run concurrently, for possessing the four greenfinches. He was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of supervised unpaid work over the next 12 months and also to pay court costs of £400.
The court heard the reason for the suspended sentence was the seriousness of the offences.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act makes it illegal to capture, attempt to capture or sell any British bird
In Victorian times British finches were popular as cage birds throughout the British Isles, often replacing canaries.
Due to a lack of protection in those times, thousands of birds were captured for the pet trade every year.
RSPCA chief inspector Carroll Lamport, said: “It’s really cruel to trap and catch wild birds and keep them in the way we saw here, purely to be sold on for profit.
“The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits the possession of wild birds.
“It is also an offence to sell, offer or expose wild birds for sale.
“It’s estimated that thousands could be taken from the wild each year to supply the trade in finches to enthusiasts in the UK and abroad.”