|Wildlife poisoning in the Czech Republic
Poisoning of “pest” wild animals is common practice on the whole territory of the Czech Republic, despite it is forbidden by the law for more than 50 years. It is directed mainly against foxes and martens, less frequently against otters, ravens and birds of prey. Usually the forbidden carbamate insecticide carbofuran (sold until 2008 under commercial name Furadan) is abused. CSO started its Free Wings programme following bird crime in 2000, there are no exact data of these activities before that time. In the last 10 years seems the extent of poisoning remain stable, probably after rise in the last decade of XX. century.
The main reason why people illegally use poison for liquidating the “pest” species is the prevailing opinion that there are too many predators which need to be controlled. Although these activities are prohibited by the law, the state authorities are completely failing in its enforcement – there was not even one convicted and punished poisoner in the known history of the Czech Republic. To this contribute the prevailing public opinion, at least in rural areas, which don’t see poisoning as a crime.
Bird species affected:
In most of the discovered cases, birds seem not to be the direct target, they are rather accidental but regular victims. Among the most often reported bird victims in the last 5 years 2006 to 2010 are Common Buzzards (67), Rooks (22), White-tailed Eagles (18) and Ravens (14), whereas the very scarce and endangered species like Red Kites (3), Black Kites (3) and Golden Eagle (1) are also reported. However, these numbers represent only the minimum, based on discovered cases documented in the Free Wings database maintained by the Czech Society for Ornithology, as there is no other (official) source of data. The expert guess of real extent is 10x to 20x higher, with the exception of the iconic White-tailed Eagle which has exceptionally high reporting rate. Detailed studies revealing the impact to the populations of bird species are missing, however poisoning is supposed to be at least the limiting factor for population growth of the White-tailed Eagle population and its colonization of new localities.
CSO, Czech Society for Ornithology (BirdLife partner in the Czech Republic)
Zdeněk Vermouzek, verm(at)birdlife.cz