Partners join forces to stop illegal poisoning


The RSPB has joined forces with SEO to set up the European Network against Environmental Crimes (ENEC), an organisation that aims to improve the implementation of EU laws on protecting the environment. Earlier this month, ENEC adopted a proposal for a European Action Plan to combat illegal poisoning of wildlife. The document proposes a co-ordinated strategy for all Member States to prevent, deter, monitor and, ultimately, prosecute cases of illegal poisoning within the EU.

Poisoned baits (a food item laced with insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides or herbicides) are used in the EU (and in many other countries around the world) to kill predators deemed a threat to livestock and game species. Such poisons are a threat to bird species such as Common Crane, Spanish Imperial and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Red Kite and Egyptian Vulture. Large numbers of birds are killed annually as a result of the illegal use of poisoned baits. They also endanger other wildlife, as they can be eaten by an animal that wasn’t the intended target.

Migrating birds such as Common Crane are especially at risk of illegal poisoning (Photo: Jozsef Gergely/BPSSS)

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Juan Carlos Atienza, head of the conservation unit at SEO, commented: "Many migratory species are threatened by the use of poisoned baits. The problem is that they are not equally protected against illegal poisoning in all territories throughout their flyway. It is useless to act against the use of poisoned baits in one EU country if the effort is not the same in neighbouring countries, where the birds could eventually die from poisoning."

The action plan — created with the help of representatives of 20 EU countries, BirdLife partners, judges, prosecutors, hunters and law enforcement officials — proposes measures to improve the data available on and generate awareness of the use and impact of poisoned baits; to increase prevention, deterrence and monitoring of cases of poisoning of wildlife; actions to increase efficiency in prosecuting the illegal use of poison according to EU and Member States’ legislations; and control the sale of toxic substances likely to be used for preparing poisoned bait.

Written by: BirdLife International