The Training Seminars that were organized by the Hellenic Ornithological Society in Kalampaka, under the framework of the LIFE+ Project “The Return of the Neophron”, were a big success. The seminars entitled “The issue of poisoned baits: impacts and ways to deal with this phenomenon” referred to the contribution of the Forestry Service and the hunting community in the fight against the illegal use of poisoned baits that poses the most serious threat to the survival of the remaining Egyptian Vulture pairs of Meteora.
The Seminars were held at the Centre of Labor Unions of Kalampaka, which was kindly granted by the local Municipality, on the 31st of March (Forestry Service) and the 1st of April (hunting community).
A total of 40 forestry workers attended the seminar for the Forestry Service, including the head officers of Kalampaka and Pertouli, game officers, workers and wardens of the forestry departments of Kalampaka and Pertouli as well as employees from the Forest Directorate of Trikala. Also important was the presence of the vet of the local rural veterinary clinic. The seminar for the hunting community was attended by, among others, the chairman of the 7th Hunting Federation of Thessaly and N. Sporades, the chairman of the Hunting Club of Kalampaka and 10 Game Wardens.
The seminars had an informational – educational character, focusing mainly on the presentation of the Project’s actions, the issue of poisoned baits and the ways to deal with this illegal practice. The next presentation was about the Anti-poison Dog Unit, followed by explicit instructions for relevant authorities and local stakeholders on how to handle a poisoned bait incident and collect carcasses and/or baits with safety. Forestry workers, members of the hunting clubs and game warden showed great interest and described the seminars as very constructive and useful for their work.
The discussion with the forestry workers and the vet that followed the seminar highlighted the issue of the confusion of concerned authorities’ competences, mainly in the process of dead domestic or stray animal collection from the wild, as the existing legislation does not clearly obligate the Forestry Service to intervene. The inability of the Veterinarian Office to respond to any incident handling (autopsy and toxicology tests) was also cited, due to the serious shortages in personnel and resources.
All the attendants agreed that specific legislation should be applied for the appropriate handling of poison incidents (detection, collection, toxicology tests, judicial investigation) in order to fight illegal poisoned bait use, and that the forestry and veterinarian services should be manned and funded.
At the end of the Seminars, the Forestry Service and the 7th Hunting Federation along with its Game Wardens responded willingly to the call of the Hellenic Ornithological Society for a joint operation for the protection of the Egyptian Vulture from poisons, detecting and removing the baits from the environment, before new poisoning incidents occur.