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Parliamentary questions
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13 June 2012
Question for written answer E-005923/2012
to the Commission
Rule 117
Andrea Zanoni (ALDE)

 Subject: Worrying persistence of the problem of malicious poisoning of wild and domestic animals with poisoned bait in Italy and the European Union
 Answer in writing 

In Italy, the scattering of poisoned bait in the environment is still a very widespread practice, resulting in the deaths of wild animals protected under current EU regulations. Until a few decades ago, hunters’ associations would organise the systematic, planned distribution of poisoned bait in their region in order to eliminate so-called ‘pests’ (foxes, badgers, corvids and raptors). This practice has never stopped, despite the ban on the use of poisoned bait introduced in the Birds and Habitat Directives and in Italian Law 157/92, and during the first few months of the year, following closure of the hunting season, the issue assumes even greater proportions.

To understand the scale and extent of this practice, I personally gathered data between January and May 2012 from the press and Italian animal welfare organisations. This revealed 282 cases in total of likely poisoning, some of them confirmed by laboratory analysis or veterinary diagnosis. Evidence was collected from 11 Italian regions and 30 provinces, with a particularly high number of cases recorded in Veneto and Sicily. The recorded total involved 151 dogs, 124 cats and various wildlife species (golden eagle, badger, starling and dove).

In some cases of poisoning, substances classified as slug and snail killers and insecticides were found to be responsible, while strychnine, a substance outlawed in Italy, was shown to have caused the death of six dogs. The recorded cases are merely the ‘tip of the iceberg’ which is emerging as pets die and their owners lodge complaints. The wide scale of the practice can also be seen from scientific literature, with a study(1) conducted in 2009 in five Member States(2) revealing poisoning to be one of the main causes of wildlife mortality in those countries.

1. Is the Commission aware of the existence of this practice in Italy?

2. What action will it take to ensure that Member States enforce the provisions of Annex IV to Directive 2009/147/EC and Annex VI to Directive 92/43/EEC?

3. Does it not think a European database would be useful to assess the impact of this problem on protected wildlife in all the Member States, thereby responding to the need for a Europe-wide approach as suggested by the scientific community?

(1)Guitart R., Sachana M., Caloni F., Crounbels S., Vandenbroucke V., Berny P., 2009. Animal poisoning in Europe. Part 3: Wildlife. The Veterinary Journal, 183: 260-265.
(2)Belgium, France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

Original language of question: ITOJ C 182 E, 27/06/2013
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