WILDLIFE charities have welcomed jail sentences imposed on three men who poisoned 138 birds of prey including endangered species so more game was available for hunters.
A Pamplona court sentenced two men in charge of managing four hunting reserves and a gamekeeper to two years and eight months in prison each, Because the sentence is longer than two years, they will not get the sentence automatically suspended and they will have to go to jail.
This is the longest sentence ever imposed by a Spanish court for poisoning wildlife.
The court heard that the events took place in hunting grounds in Tudela and Cintrúenigo (Navarre) in 2012 where 138 birds of prey and four crows died from eating poisoned bait. Kites, Egyptian vultures, black kites, marsh harriers and griffon vultures were amongst the victims. These are protected species that, in some cases are listed as endangered.
The poisoning was planned by the management of the companies managing four hunting reserves, two of them in Tudela (Montes del Cierzo and Monte Alto) in addition to the Cintruénigo and Fitero reserves.
Now WWF Spain and Ecologistas en Acción have welcomed the sentence and hope that it will serve as a deterrent to those who are tempted to use poison to control predators.
The convicted men have also been barred from managing hunting reserves for five years and four months as well as being banned from hunting or acting as game keepers for the same period. They will also have to pay the Comunidad Foral de Navarra €67,538.65 to help wildlife stocks recover.
NGOs estimate that the number of poisonings of fauna in Spain could reach 185,000 cases. In spite of being illegal, poison is still widely used to eliminate predators.