The illegal use of poisoned baits is a serious threat to biodiversity and a hazard to public health both in Europe and worldwide. The laying of any poisoned bait in the open is against the law in all EU Member States. The Birds Directive provides the conditions for the sustainable management of hunting, but Member States must outlaw all forms of non-selective and large scale killing of birds. This applies especially to the methods listed in Annex IV - where poisoned or anaesthetic baits are mentioned among the prohibited tools. The use of these baits are illegal independent of whether it's intented to deliberately kill a bird of prey or other, hunted species. In the EU, this illegal practice represents one of the biggest conservation problems for some endangered species, often becoming the main cause of non-natural death.
Intentional poisoning is a deliberate act when poisons are used in order to kill wildlife. The poison is often targeting at particular species, mainly those that cause economic harm to the poisoners. The consequences however are frequently unintentional and affect other species predating or scavenging on the poisoned animal. This is called as indirect (secondary) poisoning in contrary to direct (primary) poisoning.
Accidental poisoning happens when the poison is not directed against the affected species. Most often these are some kind of pesticides, used without the necessary circumspection and released into the environment in the wrong location or quantities. This misuse of chemicals include also the mixing of different legal substances, which enhances the effect of each other. For instance, lead ammunition, used to kill game species can resuult in the unintentional poisoning of scavengers. One of the most serious poisons in the killing of birds – especially birds of prey – is carbofuran. It is a powerful agricultural pesticide that was banned in the EU in the early 21st century, but still imported illegally to many of the member states.
Use of detection dogs for conservation
Specifically trained sniffer dogs can locate poisoned carcasses and baits in the field. The first specialized anti-poison dog units in Europe were established in the early 2000’s by the Consejería de Medio Ambiente of the Junta de Andalusia in Spain. Since then, the practice has been followed in many countries, and these canines have become an essential tool in the prevention and detection of illegal use of poisoned baits across Europe.
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Compiled: 2020 Copyright: 2020
BirdLife International (2020) The illegal use of poisoned baits is a serious threat to birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/09/2022