A farmer has been convicted of laying out poisoned baits in the Sierra Magina Natural Park in Andalucía in 2016 that killed two Bearded vultures from a reintroduction programme, as well as one Cinereous vulture, a golden eagle and numerous mammals.
He’s been fined 4,500 Euros and is banned from working as a cattle rancher for three years, although this sentence is apparently being appealed.
Further details about this case, including an extensive multi-agency investigation, can be read on the Vulture Conservation Foundation website here.
[One of the poisoned Bearded vultures, photo via Vulture Conservation Foundation]
Tackling the illegal poisoning of birds of prey is taken seriously in Spain with, for example, the deployment of specialist poison detection dogs and investigators given the authority to conduct unannounced spot checks in areas of suspicion. In recent years successful prosecutions have resulted in massive fines, custodial sentences and extended hunting disqualifications for those convicted of laying poisoned baits (e.g. see here, here, here, here and here).
Meanwhile, over here the illegal poisoning of birds of prey (and anything else unfortunate to consume the bait) continues without consequence. These are some of the cases reported this year alone, many during lockdown, and none of them are heading towards a prosecution:
The illegal killing of a white-tailed eagle found on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland (here), the mass poisoning of 23 buzzards in a field in Co Cork, Ireland (here), the poisoning of four peregrines on Guernsey in the Channel Islands (here), the poisoning of a family’s pet dog, believed to have consumed a poisoned bait intended for birds of prey in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a buzzard found dead on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here), the poisoning of a buzzard in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a buzzard and a kestrel in Derbyshire (here), the poisoning of three peregrines and a buzzard in Staffordshire (here), the poisoning of a peregrine in South Yorkshire (here) and the poisoning of two peregrines in North Yorkshire (here).
There may well be further poisoning cases that haven’t yet been publicised.