Authorities in Cyprus have for the first time given fines for killing wild birds using poison baits, conservationists from the nature conservation organization BirdLife Cyprus said.
The organization said that a person was fined a total of 21,000 euros (almost $23,000) after three birds were found dead at a property in the southern Limassol district.
The punishment “represents a big step forward”, BirdLife’s project coordinator Melpo Apostolidou said in a statement. It’s 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,” he added.
The crimes occurred in December 2021 when two rare Bonelli’s eagles and one goshawk were found dead near Dierona village. A GPS tracking device attached to one of the Bonelli’s eagles led authorities to the location.
Evidence collected linked the deaths of the birds to a specific individual. The person was given a fine for killing wild birds using poison and for intentionally killing a protected wild bird.
BirdLife Cyprus said using poison baits to kill birds has driven iconic species like the griffon vultures to the brink of extinction in the country. In 1950, there were several hundreds of griffon vultures in Cyprus; now, there are less than ten left. The threats they face are all caused by human activity.
Attempts are being made to restore the population with birds coming from Spain as part of the LIFE with Vultures project -a conservation effort to protect the remaining griffon vultures in Cyprus.
Since 2005, 31 griffon vultures have been poisoned. Apostolidou said authorities should do more to prevent the poisonings.