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Malicious food poisoning through baits in wildlife is a global issue.

Some authors point

out humans and predators as the roots of the conflict, since both share same interests for
certain limited resources with commercial value, like wild game or breeding stock or
The conflict gains especial relevance when shared resources hold an economic interest,
plus, involved predators are legally protected, [2] leading to unjustified prosecutions
which carry severe consequences for these species.[3
Traditionally, poisoners objectives have been small predators that feed on small game
animals, and bigger ones that may attack livestock, like wolves and bears.
It shouldnt be forgotten that this conflict reaches activities such as beekeeping and
domestic animals in urban areas. This disposal method is massive and non-selective.
It seeks to cause death en a short span of time and makes quantification and control over
the damaged area virtually impossible.
Considering its geographical location and environmental diversity,
Spain holds one of the most favourable habitats for wildlife animals in all Europe, and
poisoning is considered the main cause of mortality , along with other European
countries susceptible due to its environmental characteristics. Thats why, the presence
of this kind of lethal preparation in natural environment led us to value its possible
ecological impact.
In Spain the use of poison for hunting and fishing is a criminal offence punishable by
law due to its impact over the species conservation and its massive and non-selective
In the last few decades, different campaigns against such misconducts have been set in
motion involving both private and public sectors.
All abovementioned compiled data allowed us to assess the magnitude of the issue,
effectiveness of different strategies to cope with it and plan future measures.
A highly debatable topic is the use of poisons in a controllable fashion to deal with pest
control. Likewise, it has proven to be harmful to different species of animal wildlife[67].
Specifically, in Extremadura, casuistry of poisoning taking place in the latest years has
been assessed, such measure gave rise to the Interdepartmental coordination council
Extremadura over the use of poisoning usage in natural environment and a workgroup
to the Elaboration and Overview of the Extremaduras Strategy against the illegal use of
poisoned baits in the Natural Environment.
Both entities are in charge of developing the Extremea Strategy against the illegal
use of poisoned baits in natural environment which includes criminal and administrative
proceedings against the exercise.
Exchange of information and improvement of knowledge over this issue, also,
constitutes a fundamental axis in raising this initiative [8].
Compilation of data is herewith presented which was obtained from toxicological
analysis from the different types of referred baits to the Toxicological area of the
Veterinary Faculty from Cceres in a 10 years period(2002-2011).
All of which relates to suspicious materials found in the natural environment of
Extremadura(Spain), where these malpractices pose a hazard to be kept in mind as
extensive stockbreeding activity is performed along with game animals, with a worth
mentionin wildlife richness(it shouldnt be forgotten that one of the autonomous region
which hosts the largest birds of prey threatened throughout the world such as black
vulture, Egyptian vulture, imperial eagle or the red kite.

The differing baits analyzed are classified based on the preparation material and the
found substance.
Methods and materials.
All the data presented in this work were extracted from a total of received cases in our
laboratory that include suspicious animals died of food poisoning and potential
poisoned baits found in the environment.
As prescribed by law, an adequate follow-up of the process must be carried out in field
by Environmental Partners of the regional government or by SEPRONA( Protection of
Nature Service).
Subsequently, they were forwarded to the establi.shed entity, the Recovery Center of
Wildlife Los Hornos located in Sierra de Fuentes (Cceres), where specialized
personnel would evaluate each of the cases.
In the event of suspicious evidence of malicious poisoning, specialized personnel
concerned would provide us relevant samples along with a Record of Delivery (Acta de
Entrega) in which all details involved were outlined.
Once all samples were received at Toxicology Laboratory of the Veterinary Faculty of
Cceres), all data related to it were registered (assigned number of register, specie, data
and collection point).
Each of the samples were visually examined and were provided of attached information
containing details of every particular case. This would ascertain the suitable
toxicological analysis.
If visual examination and data seemed to suggest the opposite, analysis of
Anticholynesterasics compounds were routinely carried out over samples, as they are
often involved in intentional poisoning due to its simple handling, especially in granular
For this analysis organic solvents extractions and purification processes were performed
that have varied over time from liquid-liquid or solid phase extraction cartridge to gel
permeation chromatography using the standardized methodology of Stahr[10].
If toxic material was applied on the skin surface of the bait, and made manual removing
possible, then it would be diluted in the appropriate solvent to its further analysis.
The obtained extracts would give a clear idea of quantification and determination of
toxics by employing diverse chromatographic techniques that are also varying over
-Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC): used as an initial phase (screening), after
applying the sample on silica-gel plates and it reveals using butyrylcholinesterase
(BuChE) through Zoun and slightly modified Spierenburg.[11].
-High Resolution LiquidChromatography (HPLC) along with Diode Array(DAD)

-Gas chromatography coupled to selective detectors such as nitrogenphosphorus

detector (NPD) and electron capture detector(ECD).

-Gas Chromatography with spectrometry mass detector.( CG-MS) (Shimadzu GCMSQP2010 Plus) used since 2007.
In the event of any suspicion regarding to involvement of any other toxic, strychnine
and metaldehyde methodology described by Saldaa was specifically applied on
them (1981) [12].
For the most part analyzed baits were constituted by a meat component (69% of the
cases studied). animal carcasses with remains of poison left behind could have
been sprayed with these chemicals ( in some cases they were visible at a
glance(Fig.1 ) or effect upon the animal organism would cause death leaving
remains of the living organism.
23 out of 80 cases, granular cells were visible at a glance(fig 1). In 9 cases where
substances in its commercial form were found (4 micro-granules cases, 2 were
rodenticide, and 3 were covered seeds).They were strongly associated to fauna
poisoning or preprepared baits from nearby areas.
In this study, anticholinesterasic compounds, especially granular cells (aldicarb and
carbofurano), were revealed as the most used substances for these kind of
malpractices (see table n1). In 6 cases combination of different compounds
showed up in a single bait.
One corresponded to 3 meat baits impregnated with chlorpyrifos, Methomyl, and
endosulfan; 2 corresponded to poorly buried covered seeds
(metiocarb+imidacloprid+metalaxil+thiram+atrazine), another was a white putty
wrapping a Malathion, demetn-o-metil and carbaryl; in the latter case, a commercial
anticoagulant rodenticide was found in the forms of blueish cereal grains in which the
presence of brodifacoum and difenacoum was detected.
The high percentage of meat baits makes clear that target species are carnivorous
mammals, birds of prey and scavengers;
These birds flyover a large sensible area where extensive farming prevails and where
poisons haven been traditionally used to avoid vermin attacks against livestock and
game animals.
Birds would eventually ingest the bait or consume carcasses of other victims.
Extensive using of meat baits in such high proportion points out its low economic cost,
easy management, and resistance to degradation when faced to weather
conditions(especially when it comes to sausages(cold meat).
There was no direct connection between the used fuel( higher fat content, elaborated
food or raw, etc.) and the wrapped substance content, unlike other similar studies[13].

A direct connection was stablished in cases of impregnated objects, considering that 13

out of 14 cases the presence of Fenthion over very different objects such as sticks,
branches, ropes, wires, used as innkeep for the birds in beekeeping areas, considered
harmful for this activity such as bee-eaters(Merops apiaster); in such cases, the intention
is to poison via dermal uptake.
The other case, however, was a malathion-impregnated object.
The number of cases in which we could determine the presence of micro-granules at
first sight, and variety of samples, reveal the deliberateness of the studied baits.
In cases where commercial rodenticides were found, we considered they were left in the
field after the preparation of the corresponding bait, it poses a dangerous threaten for the
natural environment. Covered seeds with permitted substances, in one case, were placed
with criminal purposes, whilst in the other two cases, there were not properly buried to
its sowing, prompting fauna exposition towards them; they are both unique cases in
which despite no deliberateness was evidenced, numerous carcasses of birds were
founded as victims of ingesting such substances.
Exposure to poison circumstances have been traditionally classified as accidental events
with permitted substances, bad application or usage of them or criminal actions [9,1415].
The predominance of anticholinesterasic compounds of our results, would be in line
with our main date abobut the used substances for the making of poisoned baits in
different European countrys, as the presence of cholinesterase inhibitors pesticides in
comparison with other groups[4], standing out those with granular shape( facilitating its
handling) and very low LD( which increases effectiveness) [9].
Individualy, among these aldicarb and carbofurano also stand out. [15].
Similar data have been published about the situation in the U.S.[16].
Even though, anticoagulant rodenticides also plays a vital role in such cases[15], this
case was not reflected in our study, showing up in just 3 isolated cases. Our laboratory
work was based on findings on autopsy in cases where the bait was dispatched along
with carcasses of the so-called victims, as in the visual exam of the bait, so that in some
cases, anticoagulant analysis was performed as some of the bodily injuries would give
reasonable suspicion of the presence of anticoagulant.
The mere fact that target species were carnivorous and scavengers it came as no surprise
if we consider livestock attacks are one of the main sources of conflict between humans
and predator throughout the world.[1,17-21].
It has been more than 200 years since persecution and hunting of predators started to
look with favour on game animals and livestock, allowing hunting of predators while
using poisons, severely damaging its populations( in number and distribution) [22].
Currently, legal restrictions around the world regarding to these malpractices are
allowing species to gradually recover, on the other hand, though, it is engendering old
ideological clashes about the economic and environmental interests.

Proof of this can be seen in data obtained in this study. This conflict may become more
notorious in areas where important game animal activity, extensive livestock, and fauna
richness of birds of prey and carnivorous mammals merge into a common area .
Therefore, some authors considerate old persecution regulations of predators ensue
terrible consequences that harm fauna conservation to this day.
In Spain 1/1989 law from march 27th, of the natural spaces conversation and fauna and
flora , stated prohibition in its 34th article, the holding, commercialization, and usage of
poisons to kill animals. After that, 10/1995 Organic Law from November 23rd [24],
stated in its 336th article of the Penal Code, the penalization in using poisons to either
hunting or fishing, as a non-selective medium.
The 5/2010 organic law reform adds the non-selective practice term. Likewise,
42/2007 Natural heritage and biodiversity law[26] in 62.3 article stablishes:
a) prohibition of all massive procedures or non-selective to capture or kill animals.
Use of poisons against fauna is an offence defined in the penal code to this day.
Subsequently, different regions have legislations in process intended to these
malpractices; particularly, in Extremadura, it is regulated by 8/1998 law from june 26th
of Conservation of Nature and Natural Spaces of Extremadura (art.66)[27] and 14/2010
law, from December 9th , of hunting in Extremadura(art. 35 and 87) [28].
Furthermore, this legal framework comes along with strategies and plans that at an
autonomical and national level have developed measures to prevent and prosecute this
Precisely, the estrategia extremea(extremeos strategy) to eradicate poisons usage in
nature, follows 5 crucial lineas that consists of: increasing and information flowing
readily , improvement of knowledge, development and executing of specific operations
intended to prevention and deterrence, research and prosecution of the offense, criminal
and administrative proceedings, as well as other complementary actions .[29].
A highly debatable topic during the latest years has been the use of poisons to pest
control,as the plague of voles that took place in Castilla y Len, mitigation measures
were applied making use of products containing chlorophacinone and used
as rodenticides in cereal grains in 2007 and bromadiolone in
Cereal grains and in form of commercial bait in 2013; these practices caused severe
damages over birds populations, hare, canines; amongst others[6-7]. Currently it is
Obvious that intentional application of poisoned baits keep posing a threat to fauna and
may entail far-reaching consequences over populations nationally and around the world.
Poisoned baits against fauna remains a prevalent practice.
Legal prosecution of these malpractices may promote the conflict between economic
and environmental interests.
It is necessary to seek a solution based upon the exchange of information and