Jose Mourinho's departure may be seen as an 'own goal' for Chelsea by some pundits, but are the government about to score another one in the fight against wildlife crime?

One of our big success stories over recent years is that we have managed to largely crack the problem of wild birds of prey being stolen for the illegal falconry trade. It was almost impossible to catch the nest robbers in the act of stealing baby peregrines, goshawks and merlins. There were just too many vulnerable sites to protect and it only takes a few minutes to rob a nest.

So it was a massive boon for the enforcers when DNA technology came to the rescue in the early 1990's. Most stolen birds are 'laundered' into the lucrative market for falconry birds by being passed off as legally captive bred. But DNA fingerprinting put an end to all that. Simply by taking blood samples from suspect juvenile birds and comparing them with samples taken from their 'parents' we were able to prove that a number of so-called 'captive bred' juvenile raptors were not actually related to their 'parents'. They were actually stolen from the wild.

A number of raptor keepers were subsequently sent to prison in a series of high profile court cases. This seemed to act as a big deterrent because the number of these kind of prosecutions plummeted and peregrine nest robberies declined as well. So, we won that war, right? Wrong!

DNA testing depends on knowing exactly where all the captive birds are. Many birds of prey as well as other rare species like choughs and bearded tits have to be registered with the government if they are kept in captivity. This enables the police and the RSPB to locate all the birds that need testing – both the suspect birds and their alleged relatives. Without this Bird Registration Scheme there would be no DNA testing and no deterrent.

But now, in a cost cutting exercise, DEFRA have indicated that they would like to abolish the Bird Registration Scheme altogether! The RSPB, the Police and even the government's own scientific advisors on wildlife are all battling to stop them from this act of vandalism, but we are not confident they are listening.

If you agree with us, you can help by writing to your MP to ask him/her to raise the issue with the Biodiversity Minister, Joan Ruddock, asking her not to scrap Bird Registration.

You can find the contact details of your MP at