A nationwide operation dubbed ‘Antitox’ throughout June brought together The Nature Protection Service working alongside agents of The Cabildo de Gran Canaria’s Department for the Environment as part of a series of operations to prevent, detect and eradicate the use of poisoned baits within the island’s natural environment.
The use of poisons, without the proper authorisation has been defined as part of the Criminal Code since 1995 -Article 336.
A national level strategy was later designed in order to prevent the extinction of several species within the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species, due to indiscriminate use of toxins within the agricultural, livestock and hunting sectors.
Operation ‘Antitox’ has been developing annually since 2013 during summer months performing various exercises to combat the use of poisoned baits.
SEPRONA, (The Guardia Civil’s department preventing animal cruelty and environmental damage) along with Cabildo de Gran Canaria environment agents conducted a number of investigations starting in June at various different locations around the island.
Last 14 June, during a visit in the municipality of Tejeda, the body of a cat was found among the branches in hunting grounds, a few meters from a dirt track. The body was collected following SEPRONAs in-the-Field Protocol Actions for poisoned bait; conducted analysis at the location and sending the body for forensic examination at the Clinical Toxicology and Analytics department (Sertox) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
SEPRONA agents initiated steps to investigate animal poisoning after first results came back from Sertox, confirming the use of two pesticides: Chlorpyrifos and Methiocarb.
Use these two substances requires a special licence for plant protection products and pesticides. This card is given after the completion of a handler training course developed by the Canary Islands Government (Decree 57/99) in which the protocol to follow for use of these products is detailed, authorised by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment
During the operational phase of operation Antitox this year SEPRONA has also carried out 24 establishments or farm inspections, conducted eight searches in various rural areas and hunting grounds, and identified 12 people using illegal poisoned baits.
Persons who, without being legally authorised to use hunting or fishing poison, explosive means or other instruments or gear similarly destructive or non-selective for wildlife, can face sentences for imprisonment from four months to two years or fines from eight to twenty four months and, in any case, special disqualification from specific professions or trades and disqualification from exercising the right to hunt or fish for between one to three years.