On November 26th and 27th 2019, governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as environmental NGOS met in Sofia –Bulgaria- to develop a strategy which aim was to find the best solutions to fight illegal use of poison and poisoned baits in nature in order to reduce the number of poisoned animals.
This strategy, implemented at the national level, will be one of the most important to protect biodiversity and endangered species in Bulgaria.
(c) Dimitar Gradinarov
Results of the meeting
The meeting was opened by the Vice-Minister for Environment and Water, Krasimir Jivkov, who acknowledged the need to launch this initiative and confirmed the Minister for Environment was supporting it.
The first step in developing the national strategy was the analysis of available information about the use of poison and toxic baits as well as the effects of these practices on the biodiversity of Bulgaria.
The results of the discussion helped identify the main problems :
- Illegal importation of pharmaceuticals (PPP)
- Improper use of dangerous PPP in intensive farming
- Unregulated storage of dangerous PPP (old stocks and warehouses)
- Illegal use of legal PPP for poisoned baits, mainly in the context of “man-predator” conflict
- Insufficient and difficult identification of poisoners
- Risk of lead poisoning
Many of these problems are caused by the lack of recognition of the importance of poison by the concerned institutions and society.
There are other identified direct or indirect causes which make the fight against poison complicated :
- Absence of clear responsibility or coordination
- Financial and human resources
- Lack of control concerning the purchasing and use of dangerous PPP
- Failure in the implementation of preventive and effective measures to minimize the damage caused by predators (including stray dogs)
- Gaps in national legislation
The creation of a national working group responsible for implementing this strategy and develop a protocol for standardized action in a poisoning case is another important result of the meeting. The document describes clearly the steps and measures to be taken and the responsibilities of the various concerned institutions.
Reminder of the danger poison causes on wild animals
Illegal use of poison and toxic baits causes irreparable damage to predators in particular but also to endangered species such as the Egyptian vulture and the Imperial eagle.
The latest poisoning cases of endangered species in Bulgaria were reported in September 2019 when 8 Griffon vultures and a Golden eagle were poisoned in the Svoge region and more than 30 Griffon vultures were poisoned in the Kresna gorge in March 2017. In 2016, near Strazhets, a series of poisoning cases were reported which caused the death of more than 20 wild and domestic animals.
Each time, was noted a lack of synchronism between the various institutions in charge of providing adequate sampling on the field, securing zones near poisoned baits, collecting poisoned carcasses to prevent secondary poisoning and analysing samples to identify toxic substances and perpetrators.
How does Bulgaria fight illegal poisoning of wild animals ?
The VCF fights illegal poisoning of wild animals in the Balkans with the "Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project". It is a transboundary initiative financed by the MAVA Foundation, which brings together organizations for wildlife conservation, governmental agencies and other parties such as hunters associations, farmers and scientists in 6 Balkan countries.
The organizer of the meeting is the BSPB within the LIFE projects “Conservation of Griffon vultures and Black vultures in the transboundary Rhodope mountains" and "Egyptian vulture New LIFE".
Prominent among the participants are members of the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Executive Agency for the Environment, the Ministry of Interior, the Regional Directorate for Food Security, the National Institute for Veterinary Diagnostic Research, the Union of Bulgarian hunters and fishermen, IBEI – BAS, BPPS, Green Balkans, FWFF, VCF, the Association of Bulgarian Parks, Balkani Wildlife Society, Rewilding Rhodopes Foundation, Four Paws and the Thracian Universities and Agrarian.
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