A case against a falconer has been dropped on the opening day of trial after a rural crime policing team attempted to prosecute him for releasing his birds of prey into the wild, but failed to bring any evidence to court.
David Frisby, 69, had been accused of releasing his two Harris Hawks, which are not resident species to the UK, into the wild last year.
The grandfather, of Rhiw, near Pwllheli, had denied the charge of releasing a non-native animal into the UK under the Countryside and Wildlife Act, and said he was just exercising his birds.
Defence experts said exercising birds of prey is allowed within the law as part of the craft of falconry, known as “tame hacking”.
District judge Gwyn Jones told the pensioner and his counsel Ryan Rothwell that no evidence had been offered so the case was dismissed.
Martin Strain, Mr Frisby’s solicitor told The Telegraph, he believed the CPS were attempting to challenge the legality of tame hacking and it was the first case of its kind he had come across.
“I think they weren’t completely clear on the argument and they set out thinking everything was straightforward and clear.
“I suspect behind the scenes they probably tried to consult two or three different experts and all the experts agreed with ours and found we’ve probably got a fair point and then threw their hand in,” Mr Strain said.
Martyn Standley, director of the British Falconers’ Club, who attended the trial said it was “concerning” the CPS would wish to challenge the practice.
“I don’t know whether there is somebody in that part of the country that is anti-falconry, anti-bird of prey, or whether they just misunderstood the law or haven’t sought enough guidance on the law,” he said.
Mr Standley added the falconer was “close to tears” when the judge dismissed the case.
“He was ecstatic, he’s an older chap, he was over the moon, close to tears when the judge told him ‘Mr Frisby you’re free to go’,” he said.
Mr Frisby said police and a Welsh TV crew had visited his property. “I was just doing what falconer’s do,” he said. “I have had a lifetime of interest in falconry.”
He described the case as a “waste of time and of public money.”
North Wales police rural crime team have a high profile, appearing on TV and “tweeting” about their activities.
A CPS spokesperson said: “Police charged this case and passed the file to the CPS for prosecution. On review we were satisfied there was sufficient evidence that an offence had been committed.
“However, following a change in the available evidence shortly before trial, we concluded that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.”