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Poachers poison foxes not to prevent their hunting

20 January 2012 / 22:01:14  GRReporter
3830 reads

Victoria Mindova

Over twenty poisoned foxes have been found near Fthiotida in less than a month, announced the environmental organization Callisto. This is not a single case and the problem of deliberate poisoning of wild animals is extensive, although there has been a ban on the use of poison as a means of hunting in the country for almost 20 years. GRReporter contacted the environmentalist George Iliopoulos from Callisto to shed more light on the case and to try to explain why people poison wild animals by further destroying natural ecosystems intentionally.

How often do you register such cases?

Unfortunately, I must say that this is a common phenomenon and not only in the region of Fthiotida, but in the whole country. However, there were similar incidents in this area both last year and the year before last.

What causes this phenomenon?

There are three main reasons why people poison wild animals. The first is when wild animals, mostly wolves, attack herds and farmers want to protect their livestock. These cases are extremely rare now. The latest incident in Fthiotida is not due to similar reasons, because there are no farms or stockbreeding activity in the area in which poisoned foxes were found.

The second reason for which people poison wild animals most often is when an incident between the livestock guarding dogs and hunting dogs occurs. When the hunting ground is near the herds or other stockbreeding activities incidents occur between the two types of dogs. Livestock guarding dogs feel threatened when their hunting fellows are nearby and often kill them. As revenge for slain dogs, which are often quite expensive (between two to three thousand euro) hunters put poison around the area where livestock guarding dogs appear. This vendetta is well known and it is difficult to fight it.

The third reason we find dead animals is again related to hunters. Very often, they believe that foxes prevent hunting and deliberately lay poison traps to eliminate them before releasing the dogs. When hunting for rabbits, for example, and the dog sniffs a fox’s trace, it starts running after the wrong prey.

That is why they kill foxes most often, right?

It is not just about killed foxes. Fox hunting is not banned, but hunters do not want them shot, because dogs smell the blood and focus more on them than on other animals such as rabbits, etc.

Foxes are poisoned and this death is extremely painful for the animal. I have seen how wild animals that have taken poison die and we were unable to save them. I must tell you that the animal is in agony. Victims of such practices are wolves as well as shepherds' dogs.

It should be known that shepherd dogs are extremely important for breeders. They are not only man’s friends, but they actually help him in his activities. There are consequences for agriculture in addition to the moral crime when such a dog is poisoned. Sheep or other herd animals remain unprotected and exposed to the real danger of being attacked by wolves or other wild animals. These losses seriously harm the means of living in certain areas. A farmer can lose even ten dogs that help him a lot in his work.

What are the other consequences?

Other predators eat the already dead animals and as you can understand, there is secondary poisoning. Vultures, crows and other predators eat mainly corpses and the problem grows and far exceeds three or four poisoned foxes.

Is there a penalty for offenders who poison animals?

Offenders may be prosecuted under the criminal code. There has been a ban on the use of poison for the hunting of wild animals since 1993. Where there is evidence that a domestic animal was killed, the prosecution can be represented as a violation of private property. As you can see, it is very difficult to prove the guilt of a particular person, because anyone can go and put poison and it is difficult to establish the identity of that particular person. There should be regular checks to catch at least two of the offenders and have them convicted in public in order to serve as an example for the other hunters who use baits with poison.

I understand that hunters are the main source of the problem. Have you contacted hunting groups in problem areas to resolve the issue of placing poisoned baits?

Not all hunters commit this type of violations. Actually, only a few do so. Therefore, we should not throw mud at the entire branch. Most hunting groups operate within the legal hunting permits. Some of them are even helping us in this. Unfortunately, there are the so-called "black sheep" who commit these violations and they should be separated to bear their punishment. The hunting group in Gravena helped us to clear the area from poachers' traps last year.

You represent a non-government organization. What is the role of the state so as to reduce or completely eliminate these practices?

State agencies must inspect more frequently and effectively the areas where such incidents occur most often. Unfortunately, they suffer from lack of funds. In the last case with poisoned foxes, forest guards arrived on site at our signal by their own car, because their service has not provided them with a vehicle.

Tags: SocietyFoxesHuntersPoachers
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