Cyprus issues first-ever fines for poisoning raptors


Cypriot authorities have for the first time issued fines for the killing of raptors using poison baits.

Last Monday [23 January 2023], BirdLife Cyprus said that fines totalling €21,000 were ordered for an individual after three birds of prey were found dead at a rural property in the southern Limassol district.

Two Bonelli's Eagles were found dead near Dierona village having been poisoned (Natalino Fenech).

The punishment "represents a big step forward that will hopefully have a strong deterrent effect on similar illegal actions", BirdLife's project co-ordinator Melpo Apostolidou said in a statement, adding: "It is the first time in Cyprus the crime of using poison baits and killing wild birds with the use of poison has been prosecuted."

The offences occurred in December 2021 when two Bonelli's Eagles and a Long-legged Buzzard were found dead near Dierona village after a GPS transmitter fitted to one of the eagles led authorities to the discovery. Evidence collected linked the deaths to the suspect who was found to have intentionally killed the animals "to protect chickens" from the birds, Apostolidou said.

Under Cypriot law, courts can impose prison sentences of up to three years or fines of up to €20,000, or a combination of both for each offence. BirdLife described the use of poison baits in the countryside as a wildlife crime, saying it has driven species including Griffon Vulture to the brink of extinction in Cyprus.

Apostolidou called on the authorities to do more to prevent the poisonings.