Spanish farmer fined & jailed for poisoning vultures

Once again, a Spanish court has imposed a significant penalty on an individual found guilty of deliberately poisoning birds of prey, according to an article on the Vulture Conservation Foundation website.

The article (here) says that in spring 2019 three dead griffon vultures were found on a sheep farm in the province of Cáceres. An investigation led to the discovery of dead sheep that had been sprayed with poisonous insecticide which the judge decided had been deliberately placed to poison the vultures.

 [One of the poisoned griffon vultures. Photo by Jovan Andevski]

Reporting this week, the Vulture Conservation Foundation states that the court sentenced the sheep farmer to 18 months in prison and ordered him to pay a daily fine of €3 for 21 months (totalling approximately €1,900) and a further fine of €18,000 to be paid to the General Directorate of Rural Environment of the Junta de Extremadura to compensate for each poisoned vulture (€6,000 per vulture).

An almost €20,000 fine and an 18-month custodial sentence is a significant penalty for raptor poisoning, and far, far more significant than anything we’ve ever seen in the UK, although with increased penalties now available in Scotland for this type of offence there is at least some potential for a strong response from the Scottish courts, as we’ve seen time and time again from the Spanish courts (e.g. see herehereherehere, here and here) including massive fines, custodial sentences and extended hunting disqualifications.

Although the availability of strong penalties will be no deterrent if the chance of catching an offender is still marginal, which I’m afraid it is in the UK, and the raptor killers know this only too well. Spain has worked to overcome these difficulties by the use of specialist wildlife crime officers with the freedom to undertake unannounced spot checks on private land, with specialist search dogs, at any given time.

Can you imagine this happening on a grouse moor, with strong links to the royal family, inside the Cairngorms National Park? No, me neither, and this is what happens as a result.

9 thoughts on “Spanish farmer fined & jailed for poisoning vultures”

  1. This country is nowhere in the league table of wildlife conservation management; its so far behind Africa its unbelievable; just imagine a country where the only cow a man had left to him by his father (in a culture that venerates cows) and its killed by a lion and he persuades his fellow villagers not to take revenge on the lion; well thats an FB post of a young man that has just graduated a Kenyan Ranger course; this country is nowhere; it can not even enforce its laws on the posioning of avian predators on the estates of its super privileged (culturally having killed all its serious mammalian predators so long ago they only exist in a fearful sub consious detached from all realities).

  2. I strongly suspect that the social ties between land ownership in the country and whatever remains of the aristocracy in Spain are much weaker than they are here in the UK. I feel it is this link over here – especially if the royal family are involved – that enables shooting estate owners to maintain their cavalier attitude towards wildlife and keep justice for our wildlife at bay.
    I can’t see the situation improving while our historically-hidebound monarchy and its hangers-on continue to dominate the choice of lifestyle adopted by those who own our country estates.

  3. Encouraging, but (honest question) are these penalties having any impact on the rate of wildlife crime in Spain?
    “…as we’ve seen time and time again from the Spanish courts”
    Seems to suggest not.

    1. There seem to be far fewer incidents in Spain than there are here and even in the shooting areas there are plenty of raptors unlike many/most of our grouse moors and big pheasant estates. Perhaps we should all be sending this news to our MPs to get them to up the ante in this country because its not that we cannot its that they don’t want to.

  4. So who gets the better protection, and in which country? when it comes to dealing with and prosecuting deliberate crimes against birds of prey?

    Well done to the Spanish authorities. And nil points as usual to the British authorities too closely linked to the rich land owners.

  5. The royal family, all of them, have much to answer for. If they can get away with causing our wildlife to be slaughtered, why shouldn’t the people that look up to them? And what court is going to go up against them? We need to be rid of them before we hope to see any change.

  6. Of course this is a vastly better effort by Spanish authorities than ours & I would love to see a few landowners and Agents (more so than keepers) do a spell in HMP Wakefield, but being a cynic I would also love some local or inside information about the big driven Partridge shooting Estates in Spain. Their Owners and Agents are cut from the same cloth as in Britain (in fact some are the very same people – and also a few keepers have gone to Spain, France & Italy down the years to run commercial shoots), their Estate’s main objective of “big bags & big money” is just the same as here and I just can’t conceive that out there they will choose to play fair by the laws of predator control either. Just anecdote, but I have never personally seen many birds of prey when in inland Spain.

  7. It seems as if the burden of proof is somewhat lower in Spain than the U.K.
    According to the report there seems to be no direct evidence that the farmer placed the sheep carcass, or applied poison to it and yet the judge decided that he had done so. I find it hard to believe that a landowner or keeper in the U.K. would be found guilty because poisoned bait was found on their land/beat. Perhaps this is how our laws need to change, so that the person responsible for an area of land is assumed to be guilty of placing illegal poisons or traps unless they can provide good evidence to show that they didn’t do it.
    I realise that this may contradict our presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and is therefore a tricky subject as it could have far reaching implications beyond raptor persecution.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s