Unintentional poisoning (poison baits)

The primary cause of vulture decline in Europe is feeding on poisoned carcasses meant for mammalian predators. Bulgaria experienced a severe threat in the 1950s and 1960s when poisoning was an official state practice. Poison bait, originally set for wolves, has been responsible for mass vulture poisonings in the Southern Balkans, leading to the death of 446 vultures over 30 years. Despite legal prohibitions, poison incidents still occur, especially in Greece and some parts of Bulgaria and the Balkans. These events can jeopardize restoration efforts, as seen in accidents in Kresna SPA (2017) and Vrachanski Balkan SPA (2019), resulting in the loss of an estimated 58-60 individuals. To prevent further losses, rapid response, locating and removing field-set poison, and proper institutional intervention are crucial but currently lacking.

Combating threat in the project

  • This proposal aims to use an early warning system based on intensive GPS tracking of vultures, initially developed in the LIFE14NAT/BG/649 project and developed and spread within LIFE19 GIE/NL/001016. It allows 24/7 monitoring of tagged vultures through smartphones, enabling early intervention to prevent mass mortality and pinpoint the location and time of poisoning to inform authorities.
  • The prevention measure is “concentrating” vultures in Vulture Safe Areas (VSA) through targeted food management and enhancing the feeding site network. Optimize the supplementary feeding site network for vultures with 10 new farmer’s feeding sites/initiatives.
  • Increase the capacity and engagement of national institutions to react and combat wildlife crime by offering training in forensic toxicology to 8 representatives from relevant governmental authorities within the Wildlife Crime Academy (in Spain) and boost the implementation of the National Anti-poisoning Strategy in Bulgaria. On-the-job training of real cases for investigation to 30 institutional teams, resulting from frequent communication and provision of an average of five signals for poison baits annually.


You too can help the vultures

„Bearded Vulture LIFE” is co-financed with 80% by the EU programme LIFE and French Bioparc Conservation and Sainte – Croix Biodiversite.
For the remaining 20% we need your help.

Together we can help the restoration and survival of these endangered birds in our skies!