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Prison, fine and hunting disqualification for a hunter who poisoned four vultures in Spain

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Dead Griffon Vulture/illustrative (c) Jovan Andevski/ VCF

Some justice was recently served for four vultures that were killed from illegal wildlife poisoning! A hunter in Spain received a harsh penalty for using a sheep poisoned as bait in a farm in Agudo (Ciudad Real) to deliberately kill vultures.

Sentence for poisoning vultures

The 3rd Criminal Court of Ciudad Real has sentenced a hunter to six months in prison, two years of disqualification from hunting and a fine of 36,000 euros for having poisoned four vultures.

The events occurred in 2012 when environmental agents from the province of Ciudad Real found the carcass of a Cinereous Vulture on a farm in the town of Agudo (Ciudad Real). Days later, the same agents and staff of the Unidad de Investigación de Venenos de Ciudad Real discovered the bodies of three dead Griffon Vultures and a sheep that had been eaten by the birds on the farm.

Subsequent necropsies determined that both the sheep and the four vultures’ carcasses contained ‘oxamyl’, which is a powerful insecticide used on crops. According to the ruling, the hunter arrested for these acts used the sheep as bait to eliminate the vultures.

This court ruling was released last Wednesday 15 January by the Professional Association of Environmental Agents of Castilla-La Mancha (APAM). The Association has long called for the creation of new units of investigation of poison in this community to prosecute crimes against wildlife by the use of poisoned bait.

Source: HOY 

This sentence is a rare example that needs to be followed up elsewhere. Wildlife poisoning is a destructive environmental crime that should be treated as such. The support and involvement of the government, law enforcement and criminal-judiciary is essential to tackle this threat.

Spain leading the fight against wildlife poisoning 

Poison in nature continues to be one of the most destructive illegal practices for biodiversity in Spain, killing precious wildlife. Spain, however, can be seen as a best practise example in Europe when it comes to tackling illegal wildlife poisoning. Thanks to decades of work and enforcement, this destructive practice drastically decreased in the country. However, even in Spain, only around 5% of the poisoning incidents are resolved and arrive at a conclusion. Last year, the harshest wildlife poisoning penalty in Spain’s history was imposed, and we hope that more and more wildlife crimes will be brought to justice just like in these two cases.

How the VCF tackles vultures’ biggest threat

The Vulture Multi-species Action Plan (Vulture MsAP), co-developed by us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), and endorsed by the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), concludes that poison with poisoned baits (often against predators of livestock) is the biggest threat to vultures worldwide and a significant part of this global action plan for vultures focuses on the actions needed to fight this threat. Furthermore, the Vulture MsAP is a global strategic blueprint identifying priorities and actions to conserve 15 species of old world vultures, approved in the conference of the parties of the Convention for Migratory Species.

We are actively pursuing different lines of work to fight this threat, among which is the Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project, funded by the MAVA Foundation. The project is working and funding local partners in six counties (AlbaniaCroatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece North Macedonia and Serbia) to try to eradicate this illegal and highly damaging practice.

Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project

The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project is a cross-border initiative bringing together wildlife conservation organisations, governmental agencies and other stakeholder such as; hunting associations, farmers and scientists, in six Balkan countries to tackle illegal wildlife poisoning.

Funded by the Mava Foundation we aim to secure real and continued engagement of the relevant national governmental authorities in the Balkan region against illegal wildlife poisoning and increase their capacity to counteract it and working together to take positive steps to protect vultures.  

The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project is a partnership between us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation and the Albanian Ornithological Society-AOSProtection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania-PPNEAOrnithological Society “Naše ptice”,Association BIOMHellenic Ornithological Society-HOSMacedonian Ecological Society-MESDruštvo za zaštitu i proučavanje ptica Srbije

The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project  also contributes directly into the implementation of the Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan by carrying out anti-poisoning actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia, and is building on our work for the last decade in the Balkans thorugh the Balkan Vulture Action Plan.

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