Cypriot authorities have issued the first-ever fines for killing rare wild birds with poisoned baits, an animal welfare group on the Mediterranean island said on Monday.
A person was fined a total of €21,000 last week after three dead wild birds were found on a rural property in Limassol (south), BirdLife Cyprus said in a statement.
This sanction “represents a major step forward that will hopefully have a strong deterrent effect on similar illegal acts,” said BirdLife project coordinator Melpo Apostolidou.
“This is the first time that the criminal use of poisoned baits… has been prosecuted in Cyprus,” she added.
The crimes took place in December 2021. Two rare Bonelli’s eagles and a long-legged goshawk were found dead near the village of Dierona thanks to a GPS tag attached to one of the eagles.
The evidence gathered made a link between the deaths of these birds and the suspect’s intent to kill them. The latter said he wanted to “protect the chickens from birds of prey,” Ms Apostolidou said.
Cypriot law provides for any offense with a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine of up to 20,000 euros or a combination of both.
BirdLife has called the use of poisoned bait a crime against wildlife, saying the practice has brought iconic species like the griffon vulture to the brink of extinction in Cyprus.
In the 1950s, there were several hundred large vultures in Cyprus. Today there are only nine griffon vultures left on the whole island.
Since 2005, 31 vultures have been poisoned and efforts are being made to repopulate their population with birds from Spain.
Ms Apostolidou urged the authorities to take further measures to put an end to these poisonings.