The key drivers behind the use of poison baits in the Balkans

Even though it is not always possible to verify and confirm the driver behind the placement of poison baits in each case, it is crucial to better understand the motives behind illegal wildlife poisoning to provide solutions and tackle this threat head-on. Over the years, extensive investigations in the Balkan region identified conflicts with predators as the leading motive for the intentional placement of poison baits to kill wild, feral or domestic animals. 

Conflicts with Predators

The majority of well documented poisoning incidents indicate that the main driver of using poison baits in the Balkans are conflicts with predators. These mainly include jackals, wolves, foxes, bears, as well as feral and stray dogs. Although this practice is illegal, livestock breeders, farmers and game managers commonly use poison to kill predators as a quick and affordable "solution" to resolve conflicts with wildlife and avoid potential damages that they may inflict on livestock and game animals.

Secondary motives behind poisoning

Generally, the majority of well documented incidents indicate that socio-economic issues play an important driver of illegal wildlife poisoning in the Balkans. In most incidents with poisoning, the damages that animals inflict, or potentially are likely to inflict, upon livestock or game species are the main motives behind this illegal practice. Besides conflicts with predators, people use poison baits to address conflicts with shepherd dogs, conflicts with introduced game animals, damages to agriculture, and in some cases, personal disputes. However, the reasons behind most poisoning incidents, especially those relating to vultures, remain undiscovered.

Vultures are not Typically the Target of Poisoning

© Associate Professor Emine Hesna Kandır

Although not typically the target, as vultures rely on carrion for their survival and reproduction, they are the most susceptible to fall victim to poison baits, with multiple vultures often becoming poisoned while feeding on a single laced carcass. Furthermore, avian scavengers such as vultures have the highest percentage of extinction-prone species among avian functional groups, and the most common driver of their declines worldwide is illegal poisoning.

Poisoning is not a Solution

Most people who place poison baits face real problems and are unaware of the adverse effects this unselective and damaging practice causes on nature, animals and public health. However, no matter their motives, poisoning, which is also illegal, is not a solution. Safe preventive measures that address the drivers behind poison baits do exist. The BalkanDetox LIFE project will raise awareness and promote the appropriate solutions among key stakeholders to reduce wildlife-human conflict, in aim to minimize the scale and scope of illegal wildlife poisoning across seven Balkan countries.



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