Status of the illegal use of poison baits in Greece (2012-2015)

11.10.2016
Sensitivity map for recorded poisoning incidents per region in Greece (2012-2015)

Despite being banned since 1993, the use of poison baits is a common practice in Greek rural areas threatening with extinction a long list of protected species. During the period 2012-2015, the Greek Antipoison Task Force recorded in total of 163 events and conducted analysis aiming to shed some light on the consequences, reasons and factors driving this practice. The toxicological analyses carried out show that there's a wide range of chemical substances used, usually pesticides legal or banned. Scavenger bird species are the wildlife group most affected by the use of poison baits (30% of all poisoned animals), however working dogs are the most affected group of animals as a whole (39%).

During the two years that the Canine Teams were active (2014-2015), 28% of the total poisoning events recorded in the database were detected thanks to the use of the Teams, proving just how effective these units can be and underlining the importance of having such a tool in the fight against poison.

In nearly 86% of the poisoning events no official complaints were made either to the prosecutor/police or to other relevant authorities (i.e. Forestry Services). This is in part due to the lack of a clear legal framework determining the responsibilities of all relevant authorities; this also has negative consequences regarding the removal of poisoned animals and baits from the field as well as the collection of evidence and samples for toxicological analyses that could subsequently be used for the investigation of the crime and at court. In addition, the fact that most of the poisoning event records come from areas where the organizations of the Antipoison Task Force are active indicates that the cases registered are only the tip of the iceberg.

In brief, the situation in Greece regarding poison baits can be described as critical. Since 2012, at least six Egyptian vultures have been poisoned (national population is estimated to be less than 10 breeding pairs). What’s more, the European Commission has started an infringement procedure against Greece due to the mass poisoning event in Nestos Gorge in February 2012 which wiped out a whole colony of Griffon vultures and the local breeding population of the Golden eagle. Beyond the negative impacts on protected wildlife species, the illegal use of poison baits is an extremely complex problem which has deep socio-economic implications. An integrated National Strategy against the use of poison baits is needed in order to effectively address this problem. This Strategy should be supported by a National Action Plan that includes targeted actions to prevent this practice, to eradicate the motives, to specify the responsibilities and the role of competent authorities, as well as aiming to inform and increase public awareness.

The report is available here: PDF.

 

Poisoning incidents per month
Distribution of poisoning incidents within and outside of SPAs
Motives for the illegal use of poison baits
Groups of animals victims of illegal poisoning
Species of animals victims of illegal poisoning
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