France’s Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux have released a series of publications that aims to raise awareness of the devastating impacts of illegal poisoning on wildlife.
Illegal poisoning in the Pyrenees
Pyrenean mountains host some of the most threatened raptors in Europe, with a high proportion of the French populations of bearded vulture, Egyptian vulture and red kite. Since 2005, a specific surveillance program “Vigilance poison” has been set up in the Pyrenees to identify causes of death of avian scavengers, with the alarming conclusion that poisoning is the most common cause of death.
Often known as the ‘Silent Killer’, Illegal wildlife poisoning has made a worrying return this year to the Grand Causses National Park with the death of bearded vulture Durzon.
Destruction of protected species like bearded vultures and all other raptors carries hefty penalties in France including two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 150 000€. However, cases like Durzon are often dismissed by the courts and the few sanctions issued are not very dissuasive.
Fighting illegal poisoning in Europe
This complacent attitude to punishing perpetrators of this horrific wildlife crime is not the same across Europe. Spain’s Andalusia region for example has been at the forefront of tackling illegal poisoning and in July 2018 announced the Andalusian Pact Against Poisoning, a comprehensive package of measures to deliver the region’s anti-poisoning strategy which was launched in 2004. The strategy has led to a significant decrease in the cases of poisoning, some 50 percent, and involves quick investigations of suspected cases, canine anti-poisoning units and patrols, and condemnatory sentences being imposed.
In association with many partners, the LPO has published two documents in order to raise awareness of the different publics in the Pyrenees about illegal wildlife poisoning. Specifically the two publications are targeted at members of the public as well as the policing and justice services. These can be downloaded below and we here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation hope that they will help inform the public and those involved in bringing these wildlife criminals to justice about the dangers posed to vultures and other wild animals by the illegal use of poison. Poisoning is a devastating wildlife crime that should be treated as such!