The first specialized anti-poison dog units in Europe were established a decade ago by the Consejería de medio ambiente of the Junta de Andalusia. These specially trained canine unit aid in the detection of poisoned baits. Since then, this tool has become an essential element in the prevention and detection of illegal use of poisoned baits across Spain and Europe.
Today WWF-Spain is organizing - in collaboration with MAGRAMA (Spanish ministry of environment) - a conference on this subject, to discuss the best practice and exchange of experiences between the different Spanish regions, and the National Police (Guardia Civil), which has their own dog unit. The objective of this conference is also to encourage the cooperation between different institutions and administrations involved in the development of these dog patrol units.
The VCF is also present, together with some of our stakeholders from Portugal and Italy, which will be establishing their own anti-poison dog units in projects in which we are collaborating (LIFE RUPIS and LIFE Under Griffon Wings).
Poison is the biggest threat to vultures worldwide, and this practice is still deeply rooted in several regions in Europe. While a lot of achievements have been done, notably in Andalucía, constant work – both preventive and reactive - will have to continue, as poisoning continues to surface here and there, notably associated with the conflict between people and the recovering populations of big carnivores (wolf, lynx).