Once again, poison illegally placed in the wild has caused the death of an endangered bird species in Bulgaria.
On the 17th of September, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) received a report of a poisoned Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) around Krumovgrad. The bird was found in critical condition by a local man, who immediately took it to a veterinary clinic in town.
Unfortunately, the young vulture died shortly after. Food was found in its crop and the flies on its break died immediately – a clear sign that the vulture was poisoned.
RIEW – Haskovo (Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Water in Haskovo) filed a police report that immediately kickstarted an investigation. Veterinary medical expertise was requested, an autopsy was performed, and samples were taken for laboratory analysis and identification of the type of poison.
The BSPB Wildlife Poison Dog Team thoroughly searched the area where the bird was found but did not identify any other victims or locate any remaining poison bait. If the poisonous bait is still in the wild, it will continue to be a deadly threat to other rare species of birds, games, domestic animals, local people, and biodiversity in general. How far the damage caused by this illegal act extends to and whether there are or will be more victims is yet unclear.
The body of the poisoned vulture is now stored in the Wildlife Rescue Center of Green Balkans in Stara Zagora for additional research.
This unfortunate discovery comes one month after the National Action Plan for Combatting Illicit Use of Poisons in the Wild (2021-2030) was agreed on. Developed by BSPB, the plan has an approved protocol for investigating cases of poisoning and has been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Interior for implementation. The plan is a pivotal tool to counter one of the biggest threats to biodiversity in Bulgaria – poisonous baits.
The Cinereous Vulture is a species protected by the Biological Diversity Act and any form of attack is completely prohibited. The species is extremely rare in Bulgaria and several organisations have been working to restore it as a breeding species in the country. The species nests in the Greek part of the Eastern Rhodopes, and individuals visit the Bulgarian side of the mountain daily in search of food. The largest colony of the species on the Balkan Peninsula nests in the Dadia National Park in Greece and numbers only 30 pairs. As a result of many years of restoration efforts, a second colony of three pairs was formed in the Eastern Stara Planina this year. The successful conservation of the Cinereous Vulture in this area is of international importance.
BSPB expresses great gratitude to the man who discovered the bird and to the veterinarian who promptly responded. The organisation urges anyone who comes across a suspected case of poisoning in a dead or ill bird or another animal to immediately report it to the police.