Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Economics of Bird Theft

May 18th, 2012 · No Comments

I must confess to an undue fascination with bird theft, a crime too-seldom explored in the annals of popular literature. Though there is no shortage of stories about purloined finches, reporters never seem to explain how much the crooks stand to earn—or, more important, the mechanics of fencing illegally obtained birds. I was thus pleased to come across this account of recent swan-egg thefts in Florida, which flicks at the dollar amounts involved:

Forty swan eggs were stolen from nests on the shores of two lakes near downtown Lakeland, city officials said Friday. That’s double the 15 or 20 originally feared stolen since March.

The motive for the theft is believed to be money. Parks and recreation officials say an egg is worth $150 and a cygnet $300, so the thief or thieves could make up to $12,000, tops.

Digging a little deeper, I find that full-grown swans can retail for upwards of $3,500, a figure which would seem to substantiate the Florida officials’ estimates. It should be noted, however, that Cameroonian suppliers stand to roil the market with their cut-rate prices—though, granted, you need to factor in the probability of getting scammed when dealing with Yaoundé-based poultry farms.


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