Аssessment of the illegal use of poison baits in the NATURA 2000 sites for the Egyptian vulture in Greece and Bulgaria

12.03.2015
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Interview in Dasos Dadia-Soufli SPA (A. Bonnetti/WWF)

A study on the illegal use of poison baits in Greece and Bulgaria was conducted in the frames of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”. The study confirms the magnitude of poisoning events in both countries where the last remaining Egyptian vultures are exposed to this threat.

Data was collected for the period 2003-2013 by face-to-face interviews (a total of 603 questionnaires) with land users (farmers, livestock breeders and hunters) and agencies (forestry and veterinary services, police, municipalities, NGOs, private veterinary clinics and private stores for pesticides) in 314 settlements in all 27 project sites (see the map).

In Greece, the use of poisoned baits was confirmed by 62.67% of interviewed land users and 80.91% of interviewed agencies. The main social groups identified as responsible for the use of poison baits were hunters, livestock breeders and village/urban residents. Three species were highlighted as targeted animals for poisoning: dogs, foxes and wolves. Shepherd dogs were mainly mentioned by land users as target species while stray dogs were pointed out mainly by agencies. The main types of poisoned baits used to kill the damaging animals were a piece of meat with pesticides and capsules with cyanides.

In Bulgaria, the illegal use of poisons was confirmed by 7.63% of interviewed land users and 27.91% of interviewed agencies (however, it should be noted here that the Bulgarian interviewees discussed the non-intentional poisoning mainly in the light of intensive use of pesticides and rodenticides particularly in northern part of the country - a legal action but with negative impact on wild mammals and vultures). The main social groups identified as responsible for the non-intentional use of poisons were farmers and livestock breeders. The main targeted animals for poisoning were insects and rodents but other animals like livestock, herbivorous mammals, predators and vultures are non-intentionally poisoned due to the intensive use of pesticides and rodenticides.

According to the results from Greece, there is a wide range of proposed measures against illegal use of poison baits which should aim to resolve a quite wide list of potential conflicts such as the conflict between hunters and livestock breeders in relation to the attacks of shepherd dogs on hunting dogs. Moreover, conflict between hare-hunting practices and foxes, conflict between sheep and goats livestock-farming and wolves and finally conflict between village and urban residents and stray dogs.

In Bulgaria, actions against poisoning should aim to the mitigation of the problem resulting from the intensive use of pesticides and rodenticides in agricultural practices in NATURA 2000 network and a buffer zone around the SPAs and the mitigation of the conflict between livestock breeders and wolves within the implementation of an appropriate compensation scheme in the country.

Urgent measures to control the illegal use of poisons should be undertaken in both countries.

Link to the full report: http://lifeneophron.eu/en/Technical_Reports.html

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