Disposing of old egg collections
30 January 2004
Many people with egg collections do not wish to keep them. Learning of the legal situation often strengthens their wish to dispose of the eggs.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act makes the selling of eggs illegal. This ban is not confined to eggs taken since September 1982. The sale or exchange of any British wild bird’s egg is illegal, regardless of its age. To dispose of eggs legally, they may only be given away or destroyed.
Giving the eggs to someone else merely hands the problem on to them. It may be possible to give eggs to a museum, but it should be pointed out that museums will only generally accept eggs with accurate and reliable data.
Eggs that have no data with them are usually of no scientific value, and not sought by museums. Egg collections are no longer openly displayed in museums.
The option of destroying a collection is distasteful to many people, especially if the eggs were once the property of a deceased relative. However, if a museum is not prepared to take them, and if the law is not to be broken, it is perhaps the only reasonable option. While the eggs may be lawfully given away to another person, this simply puts the same legal burden on them.
It is also worth remembering that an old and relatively insignificant egg collection can encourage young people to start actively collecting eggs.