An individual was handed a €21,000 fine for killing wild birds using poison baits, the first fine ever issued in Cyprus for this offence, the Game and Fauna Service and the organisations BirdLife Cyprus, Vulture Conservation Cyprus and Terra Cypria said in a joint press release on Monday.
The fine was issued for crimes that took place in December 2021, where three birds of prey, two Bonelli’s Eagles and one Long-legged Buzzard, were found dead near Dierona village in the Limassol district.
The identification of the precise location of the dead birds was made possible through the signals of the GPS transmitter that had been fitted on one of the eagles, which is what mobilized the Game and Fauna Service to investigate the area in collaboration with the police, the press release said.
After investigations, police arrested an individual in connection with the crime.
The individual was handed a fine for the offence of killing wild birds with the use of poison and for intentionally killing and/or capturing a protected wild bird. The necropsy and related toxicological analyses on the dead birds showed that their death was caused by carbofuran, a highly toxic and banned substance.
In the case that the fine is not paid, the suspect will be taken to court. According to the law, the court can impose a prison sentence of up to 3 years or a fine of up to €20,000 or a combination of these for each offence separately.
“The prompt mobilisation and coordination among the competent authorities for the thorough investigation of the case played a crucial role, namely the Police, the Game and Fauna Service, the State General Lab, the Veterinary Services and the Department of Agriculture. The result comes when there is a targeted effort from several stakeholders to acquire capacity and knowledge on the forensic investigation of wildlife crimes, through participation in the Wildlife Crime Academy, a learning platform that is using Spanish best practices,” the press release said.
Melpo Apostolidou, BirdLife Cyprus’ Project Coordinator, 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, I mention that in 2019, in Spain, three people were sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison and were ordered to pay €67,538 in compensation for the wildlife damage they caused.”
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, the press release said. “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 as part of the LIFE with Vultures project.”
The public is called to report wildlife crime incidents to the Game and Fauna Service’s Anti-poison Dog Units on 99267916 or 99255086 as well as their local police station.