Wildlife poisoning in Spain: overview and analysis of legal cases

Poisoned baits are the most widely used method to kill predators worldwide, mainly associated with hunting management and livestock farming. It is an intentional poisoning in which the author intends to kill a series of animals considered harmful to livestock or game species and that, on many occasions, ends up affecting other species that were not intended to be killed.

Spain is at the forefront in the investigation and the fight against these crimes. Between 1992 and 2017, a total of 21,260 animals were found dead after consuming poisoned baits, in a total of 9,700 poisoning episodes. But this data constitutes only the tip of the iceberg, since most of the cases go undetected – it is estimated that the real figure is over 200,000 poisoned animals, according to the report “Poison in Spain: Evolution of Wildlife Poisoning 1997 – 2017”, developed jointly by WWF Spain and SEO/BirdLife.

The report analyzes the territorial scope of poisonings, the substances used and the evolution of their use over time, the origins and causes of the illegal use of poison baits and especially the impact it has on wildlife, focusing on some relevant species. 

The illegal use of poison bates has a very serious impact on Spanish biodiversity and affects endangered and iconic species such as the black vulture (Aegypius monachus), the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or the red kite (Milvus milvus), and also all three spanish large carnivores – the brown bear (Ursus arctos) the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus subsp. Signatus) and the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus).

The publication was carried out in collaboration with BirdLife Europe and within the framework of the Mediterranean Anti-Poisoning Project (MAPP) project to reduce poisoning of vultures and other predators in the Mediterranean funded by the MAVA Foundation.

Access the report here

Analysis of the legal response to illegal wildlife poisoning in Spain

Poisoning Convictions in Spain

In this article, experts in environmental law and endangered species conservation analyse the more than one hundred criminal sentences handed down in Spain to people who poison wildlife. Their conclusions and recommendations, published originally in spanish in the journal Quercus, should be considered to strengthen the fight against poison in the natural environment.

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Liability for the Environmental Damage Caused in Cases Involving the Fight Against the Use of Poison in Spain

Despite the significant number of poisoning incidents in Spain, the number of convictions for poisoning cases is extremely low. In this article, published in the journal Actualidad Jurídica Ambiental (AJA), the convictions handed down to date in Spain are analysed to evaluate, among other issues, the frequency with which environmental liability is recognised in wildlife poisoning cases.

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An iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) poisoned in Castilla y Leon, while environmental agents prepare to remove the carcass. Picture by Juan Luis Ortega Herrainz