A Spanish court in Albacete has confirmed recently, in a landmark case, that an electricity utility (Iberdrola) should pay a penalty of 26,000€ for the electrocution of 4 griffon vultures in Ossa de Montiel (Albacete) last year. In October 2016 the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development had fined the company 26,000€ because the line “had no mechanism to prevent electrocution”.
The company then appealed to the court, which now confirmed the penalty. This is important because it confirms, in the eyes of the Spanish courts, civil liability for electrocution of wildlife.
Electrocution is one of the major threats affecting vultures worldwide, as it was clearly demonstrated in the Vulture multi-Species Action Plan (MsAP), an international action plan covering 15 old world-vultures in more than 120 range states. This umbrella new strategy for vultures – nature’s primary scavengers, providing indispensable ecological services as carrion feeders and disposers of disease-carrying carcasses, was developed by VCF, BirdLife International, and the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group under a contract from the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MoU under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), and will be hopefully adopted in the CMS conference of parties this fall. The Vulture MsAP provides several solutions to minimize deaths by electrocution, including legal advocacy towards the type of civil liability now enforced in Spain.
There are relatively cheap and effective solutions readily available to insulate dangerous pylons, so this threat could easily be solved if electricity utilities, governments, and NGOs all work together.