, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 264-272
Date: 15 Feb 2008

Pesticide abuse in Europe: effects on the Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) population in Spain

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A survey was carried out to investigate incidents of pesticide poisoning of the Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) in Spain during the period 1990–2006. A total of 241 incidents affecting 464 vultures were investigated to establish their causes: approved use, misuse, or deliberate abuse. Other factors studied were compounds, other species affected by the incident, the mode of application, spatial and temporal variation and reasons for the pesticide abuse involved. Approved use was responsible for only a minor fraction (1.3%) of the incidents whereas up to 98% of the investigated incidents were intentional poisonings. Pesticide mortality mainly affects adult individuals (83%) and the implications of this for population dynamics could be important. Eleven different compounds were involved in these incidents although three compounds accounted for up to 88% of the poisoning cases: carbofuran, aldicarb, and strychnine. Most of the pesticide kills seem to be related to the illegal control of predators. Given the minor impact of labeled-use pesticides, currently approved pesticide use does not represent a problem for the Cinereous vulture. Nevertheless, availability of highly toxic pesticides may exacerbate illegal use. As a few compounds, mainly granular insecticides, are responsible for most pesticide kills, stronger regulation and control of these in the EU could result in a decrease of mortality related to pesticide abuse in several endangered species without a significant effect on agriculture.