Poisoner who killed eagles fined in poaching clampdown

Poisoner who killed eagles fined in poaching clampdown

A poacher who poisoned two birds of prey in Cyprus has been fined €21,000 in a case wildlife protectors are hoping will set a legal precedent.

In December 2021, the Game and Fauna Service received an alarming signal from the GPS transmitter fitted on one of the Bonelli’s eagles it monitored.

Officials mobilised a team that swiftly visited the location, near Dierona village in the Limassol district, and found the Bonelli’s eagle was dead. Nearby, lay the carcasses of another Bonelli’s eagle and a long-legged buzzard.

The necropsy and related toxicological analyses on the bird carcasses revealed they died from Carbofuran, a highly toxic substance banned in the EU since 2008.

The man responsible received a fine for the offence of killing wild birds with the use of poison and the offence of intentionally killing and/or capturing a protected wild bird.

The suspect was fined €21,000 under the provisions of the Protection and Management of Wild Birds and Game Law of 2003. If the suspect does not pay the fine, he will be taken to court. According to the provisions of the above legislation, the court can impose a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine of up to €20,000 or a combination of these for each offence separately.

Melpo Apostolidou, the project coordinator of local wildlife group BirdLife Cyprus, said: “The culmination of everyone’s efforts marks a milestone and is a positive development in the intensive efforts being made by all involved to combat the use of poison baits in the countryside.

“We believe that Cyprus is now ready to follow the example of other European countries and invest even more in efforts to prevent wildlife poisoning. As an example, in 2019, in Spain three people were sentenced to two years and eight months in prison and were ordered to pay €67,538 in compensation for the wildlife damage they caused.”

Another group, the Vulture Conservation Foundation, said poisoning is an environmental crime with highly damaging effects.

Placing poison baits in the countryside is a wildlife crime that has driven iconic bird species, such as the Griffon Vulture, to the brink of extinction in Cyprus.

Since 2005, 31 vultures have been poisoned, leaving Cyprus now with a population of only nine vultures, which is being restocked with birds coming from Spain.