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Animal mortality and illegal poison bait use in Greece

Abstract

The present study describes the use of poison baits against so-called pest species in Greece and explores various aspects of this illegal practice. Data were collected from 2000 to 2016, and a total of 1015 poisoning incidents in rural areas causing the death of 3248 animals were examined. In 58.7% of investigated cases, the motives remained unknown; in the remaining cases, human-wildlife conflicts and retaliatory actions among stakeholders (e.g., hunters vs. livestock breeders) were found to be the main reasons for poison bait use. The target animals for these actions were mainly mammalian carnivores, and stray canids, all of which were blamed for livestock and game losses. Avian scavengers were the wildlife species most affected by secondary poisoning (30% of the wildlife fatalities), whereas shepherd dogs accounted for 66.4% of domestic animal losses. Toxicological analyses showed that a wide range of chemical substances were used, mostly legal or banned pesticides (e.g., carbamates, organophosphates, and organochlorines) and potassium cyanide. Furthermore, the widespread trafficking of black marketed insecticides was also recorded, with methomyl (in powder form) and carbofuran being most common. The majority of poisoning events (72%) took place outside protected areas, while in approximately 73.4% of them, no official reporting to the competent authorities was made. Overall, the study highlights the significant impact of illegal poison bait use on wildlife in Greece and addresses its extreme socioeconomic complexity. The need for an integrated national anti-poison strategy is discussed.

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Ntemiri, K., Saravia, V., Angelidis, C. et al. Animal mortality and illegal poison bait use in Greece. Environ Monit Assess 190, 488 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-018-6838-5

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Keywords

  • Wildlife mortality
  • Pesticides
  • Poison baits
  • Greece