Alliance against the illegal use of poison baits in Epirus


With great success has taken place a workshop for the illegal use of poisoned baits in Epirus, at the Conference Centre of the Epirus Region in Ioannina. The workshop aim was the planning of the prevention and combat of the wildlife poisoning, through the development of a procedures manual to the competent local authorities and bodies of the Ioannina Region.

In Greece, the illegal use of poisoned baits has resulted to the dramatic decline of the local bird of prey populations, especially regarding vultures. Epirus was no exception, and protected bird species such as the Bearded Vulture, the Griffon Vulture and the Egyptian Vulture, that were once common to the sky of Epirus, have either disappeared in local level or their populations are on the brink of extinction.

The workshop was organised by the Hellenic Ornithological Society and the Department of Wildlife and Game Management of the Ministry of Environment and Energy in the framework of the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE Project (LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874) funded by the European Commission and the A.G. Leventis Foundation that will be implemented until 2022, following the previous LIFE+ Project “The Return of the Neophron” (2011-2016).

Victoria Saravia and Charitakis Papaioannou, on behalf of the Hellenic Ornithological Society, presented the results of the previous LIFE+ Project "The Return of the Neophron", as well as the actions that will be implemented under the new LIFE Project, with emphasis on the antipoison actions that will take place in the Ioannina Region. Following the HOS presentations, Panagiota Karatza, on behalf of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food, presented the online prescription of pesticides and how controls can ban the illegal trafficking. It worth to mention that this presentation was particularly important, since the largest amount of poisoned baits are made from pesticides, which are usually prohibited. Finally, Nikos Bokaris, Head of the Department of Wildlife and Game Management, along with Konstantina Ntemiri, HOS Policy Officer  and Anti-Poison Task Force Coordinator, presented a specific framework of actions that can act as a manual of procedures to the local authorities and services in order to reduce the illegal use of poison baits.

The workshop was attended by the Coordinator of the Decentralised Administration of Epirus, Mr. Vassilios Michelakis, the General Director of Forests and Rural Affairs, Mr. Nikolaos Papafetimiou, and the Directorate for Coordination and Inspection of Forests, Forest Directorates of Ioannina, Florina, Kozani, Kastoria and Thesprotia, Forestry Services of Ioannina, Metsovo and Konitsa, representatives of the Ministry of Rural Development as well as of the local Municipalities of Zagori, Konitsa and Pogoni, members of the local Management Authorities of Protected Areas (National Parks of Northern Pindos, Tzoumerka and Pamvotida Lake), local customer services, the Veterinary Service, the Police Departments of Ioannina and Epirus, the 5th Hunting Federation of Epirus, local livestock breeders etc. In total, the workshop was attended by more than 70 people.

Participants were highly interested on the workshop presentations, followed by a fruitful discussion. The problem of the illegal use and dispersal of poison baits, is already well known to the local services with rural protection responsibilities. Indeed, due to the frequency of the problem and the collapse of the population of protected species of wildlife, this issue was the subject of a preliminary ruling procedure in the European Court of Justice, in which Greece was called upon to explain. This process is now at the “Reasoned Opinion” stage, just a step before the country's referral to the European Court of Justice.

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