Illegal poising in Spain: three convicted

22 March 2011 Three people caught placing poison baits intended for protected birds of prey in Spain have been sentenced to a year and four months prison and fined more than €24 300.

The reduction in illegal poison incidents affecting protected in Spain is the main aim of the ongoing VENENO NO project (LIFE08 NAT/E/000062). The convictions represent a major step in the successful implementation of a national strategy against the use of poisoned bait, which the project is helping draw up. The sentences also demonstrate the effectiveness of the regional patrols and action plans that the project is aiming to establish.

Two Imperial Eagles Poisoned in Slovakia

The representatives of Raptor Protection of Slovakia (RPS) were shocked by discovering two dead Imperial Eagles near the villages of Nižná and Ve?ké Kosto?any in Western Slovakia within five days in the middle of February 2011. Two dead Common Buzzards were also found at the same locationl. Both Eagles were adults in a perfect condition, each had been ringed in Slovakia, one four years ago in Western Slovakia and the other eight years ago in Eastern Slovakia. The expert analysis has confirmed carbofuran as the cause of death of both eagles. No poisoned baits were found in the area. It is likely that small sized baits were used.

The area where the dead birds were found is the same location where 22 raptors were found poisoned with carbofuran in 2009. The dead raptors recovered  in 2009 including 4 Saker Falcons. The population of Saker Falcon and Imperial Eagle is less than 40 nesting pairs each in the whole country. The latest case is being intensively investigated by the police. In 2009 and 2010 RPS has implemented a project focusing on bird crime issue.

Thanks to the massive medial campaign valuable information concerning the cases has been received and is now being reviewed by police.

The use of carbofuran, as a highly toxic pesticide, is prohibited in the whole area of European Union. Even though it is still often used for illegal activities such as placing poisoned baits, mostly in lowlands.

The most alarming fact is that the recorded cases are only a tip of the iceberg, representing a small percentage of the total number of all illegal poisoning incidents discovered. Often the offender regularly returns to the crime scene to remove the dead bodies of poisoned victims or to bury them deep in the ground. In Slovakia bird crime is a serious problem. It is not only poisoning, every year tens of birds are being killed or injured by shooting or use of different trapping methods. Nest robberies represent serious threat as well to breeding raptors in Slovakia. It is very important to take measures for elimination of illegal activities on birds, otherwise we may be witness of extinction of several endangered species not only in the territory of Slovakia, but also in other surrounding countries.

The Ministry of Environment of  the Slovak republic is also aware of the seriousness of the existing situation. A meeting of representatives of all competent authorities and NGOs in Slovakia was organized in the middle of March 2011. The meeting adopted a number of conclusions and decisions that will contribute to solving the problem in the long term. It is necessary that this process involves more people and organisation, not only to detect and punish offenders, but also to prevent these activities from occurring in the future.

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