Another powerful deterrent sentence in Spanish raptor poisoning case

Spanish Imperial Eagle TatavascoYou may recall earlier this year we blogged about a raptor poisoning case in Spain, where a farmer was convicted of laying out poisoned baits that killed at least 11 red kites, five dogs, six foxes, a cat, a raven, a buzzard and four vultures (see here).

He was sentenced to two years in prison, two years disqualification from farming or any other profession relating to animal husbandry (post release), four years disqualification from hunting (post release), a fine of 90,270 Euros plus an additional fine of 28,500 Euros to be used specifically to monitor red kites in the local are for the next three years.

That sentence sent out a clear message to would-be poisoners that the Spanish authorities would not tolerate such offences; a stark contrast with the pathetic sentences handed out in the UK.

And now they’ve done it again.

Another case of raptor poisoning (from January 2012) has just concluded with an astonishing sentence. A farmer has been convicted of laying out nine poisoned baits and of poisoning six Spanish Imperial Eagles and a fox. His crimes were uncovered following a search of his land by specialist canine units trained to detect poisons. His sentence is as follows:

18 months imprisonment


a three-year disqualification from hunting (post release)


a fine of 360,000 Euros (£259,762.62) to be paid to the regional government for the estimated value of the six eagles.

Incredible! A custodial sentence, a ban on hunting and more than a quarter of a million quid fine.

Are you paying attention, Scottish & Westminster Governments? THIS is how to send a message that raptor persecution won’t be tolerated.

Article here.

Photo of Spanish Imperial Eagle by Tatavasco

27 thoughts on “Another powerful deterrent sentence in Spanish raptor poisoning case”

  1. how come i can neither comment nor share any of your facebook posts, am baffled, this is indeed the way to deal with wildlife criminals and it would be nice to be able to share it with my friends

  2. Brilliant indeed.. So why can’t our own toothless police and judiciary follow suit? Puts us to shame.

  3. ” get a life they are only birds”…………………………….this is the reason why Scotland has a wildlife crime problem.

  4. Take heed Scottish and English judges, sheriffs and magistrates, this is the sort of sentencing you lot should be meting out to our numerous wildlife criminals if you were doing your jobs right, especially so to the high status shooting estate owners, many of whom are so-called “peers of the realm” who definately should know better but think they are above the law. You are already becomming a point of derision at the ridiculously low sentenses, (if any) you hand out to these habitual wildlife persecuting criminals, not to mention the more than obvious old boys obligation you seem to have with these shooting estate owners and their like. Don’t you think it’s time you moved into the 21st century and upheld the laws of our land without favour or prejudice. Our protected wildlife is rapidly diminishing, especially so on the driven grouse moors where it is disappearing at an alarming rate, you can help to put a stop to this by meting out sentences to wildlife persecuting criminals that will make them think twice before killing any more wildlife.

    Driven Red Grouse shooting is going to come to an end sooner or later, the shooting estates are making sure of that by their unwillingness to curtail wildlife persecution and environment destruction, you people in the law professions can make a name for youselves by helping to make it happen sooner.

  5. “So why can’t our own toothless police and judiciary follow suit?”
    Because too many influential landowners make money out of the slaughter of grouse and other creatures. And the Establishment backs them to the hilt.

      1. Mark……..what planet have you been living on…………and its ironic you should choose to use the words. ” have you got any evidence to back this up” that’s rich given that is exactly what the police rarely have………evidence!

  6. Its about we smelt the coffee and got this conservative goverment to start sentencing the perpatrators to at least a 2 yr prison sentence with no parole, fines arew no good as the rich landowners pay the fines.

  7. As long as we have a Prime Minister, Environment Secretary & others in this pathetic Government who have no respect for wildlife, there will never be any appropriate punishment handed out by the Courts.

  8. Mark Rasbeary. Are you serious? Obviously you read this blog, so presumably you are aware of the countless cases where the police sit on what is often cast-iron evidence and simply say (repeatedly) “we are continuing to gather evidence” and then after many months ask for people to get in touch with them if they know anything! Also, there are many cases (frequently reported on these pages) where the police have dragged their heels over checking out premises adjacent to where wildlife crimes have been committed. Do your homework and then come back and tell us how many successful prosecutions you have identified as being instigated and carried out by the police in the past there years.

  9. THAT’S more like it !

    How it highlights the abominable absence of justice against raptor and other predator persecution in the UK.

    Will those in power take any notice ?

    Will Pine Martens fly ?

  10. Fantastic result again in Spain, this would really make the people that matter take notice over here if the same results could be acheived.
    Am sure it is still a minority feeling they are untouchable, this sort of sentencing would make them think again.
    How do we fund a training scheme for poison bait sniffing dogs?

  11. Certainly a promising development, but it will only truly be a ‘good result’ if high profile cases like this see a significant fall in the number of cases in Spain. Poisoning continues to be a very serious problem for raptors in Iberia and, as in the UK, is often done on big estates with limited access and a relatively high chance of escaping discovery. Certainly the use of ‘sniffer dogs’ ought to be investigated to see if similar techniques can be profitably employed in the UK.

  12. How do you know that this is a ‘powerful deterrent sentence’?

    It’s a tempting assumption, but tougher sentences don’t necessarily reduce crime.

    1. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to call this a ‘powerful deterrent sentence’ as that is clearly the intention and such measures are generally regarded as such. As to whether harsher punishment deters crime, the evidence seems to be mixed, but there is evidence that it can do so. Of course the certainty of prosecution is the greatest deterrent of all which tricky given the circumstances. Even if the deterrent effect isn’t as strong as one might hope, in Spain a large chunk of the fine goes towards conservation measures.

      1. It won’t be a powerful deterrent sentence just because of the intention (or because of what people believe in).

    2. It doesn’t take a genius to work out soft sentences certainly don’t act as deterrents.

      Tougher sentences don’t necessarily reduce crime because the person committing the crime often believes they wont get caught and as such wont be getting any sentence. So it doesn’t matter how tough the potential sentence is.

      Part of the problem with wildlife crime is that offenders believe that the chance of being caught and convicted is so small.

      Tough sentences may however reduce re offending.

      ( picture a prison uniforms made of tweed…)

  13. Adam, what do you suggest – we put then on the ‘naughty step’, slap them on the wrist, tell them they have been naughty and ask them to behave in future, make them write 200 lines saying “I must not kill wildlife and domestic animals by poisoning them”, do a couple of weeks of unpaid work, or fine them a weeks wages, or what? Please tell me this – which of these or the punishment meted out in Spain, would put you off repeating your sin? Come on, be honest. This is a great step forward and should, I repeat ‘should’, serve as a lesson for UK magistrates and other judiciary how they should deal with these criminals – for criminals they are, and mindless ones at that..

    1. I’m not suggesting anything. It is nearly impossible to measure reliably the direct impact of sentences.

      One could argue that more consistency in enforcement and sentencing could have, in the long run, a more significant impact on crime reduction than tough sentences.

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