Largest bird poisoning of Hungary happened one year ago in Tura - the case is still under investigation.
One hundred and forty-one poisoned baits and one hundred and eighteen poisoned animal carcasses were found in two months in the operational area of the Szent András Dombi hunting association in Tura at the end of the summer of 2021.
Most of the victims were the protected marsh harriers, but strictly protected species as the white-taied eagle, black kite and Montagu’s harrier also fell victim. The concentration levels of prohibited pesticides measured by the toxicological analysis was shoching the experts, as they were exceeding 6,000 mg/kg in the baits and close to 60 mg/kg in the bird carcasses, greatly exceeding all previously measured levels. With such a dose it is pure luck that human life was not claimed. The investigation was initially initiated by the Gödöllő Police Department, but due to the seriousness of the case, the National Bureau of Investigation (NNI) took over the case. The investigation is still ongoing, and the collection of information regarding the case is still ongoing.
The carcass of a marsh harrier (Photo: Gábor Deák).
Poison and victim (Photo: Gábor Deák).
Compared to previous years, there have definitely been fewer cases of poisoning in the first half of the year, which is good news. The nature conservation specialists were hoping that the spring period could pass without significant poisoning, but in the middle of May, in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County among ravens and crows, two eastern imperial eagles and one white-tailed eagle fell victim to the insidious destruction. However, instead of last year's 18 cases, this year only 4 cases of illegal poisoning have been confirmed so far.
A Montagu's harrier was found in time, so it miraculously survied the poisoning (Photo: Szilárd Morvai ).
After last year's record-breaking poisoning event in Tura, huge social outrage followed the press materials of our association. The year 2022 can be a turning point in the reduction of toxic crimes in several ways:
- Last December, the Parliament voted for the CXXVIII of 2021. law, on the basis of which the sanctions related to poisoning crimes were tightened. In the case of animal cruelty (Btk 244) and nature damage (Btk.242) the crime committed with poison is now considered a highlighted case and the preparation of the activity has also become a criminal act. In the justification of the law, among other things, the affected raptor species and the poison involved in the Tura case were all mentioned:
- At the invitation of the National Büreo of Investigation, MME Birdlife Hungary joined the National Environmental Safety Working Group, whose members are the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, the National Tax and Customs Administration, the BM National Disaster Management Directorate General, the National Food Chain Safety Office, and the Pest County Government Office, National Police Headquarters and the international NGO, TRAFFIC. The working group deals with several priority environmental and nature protection topics among one of them is wildlife poisoning crimes.
- In the last months, several organizations involved in game management have spoken out against bird poisoning too. An article was published in the Nimród hunting magazine entitled "Call for the protection of wildlife" by the National Hungarian Hunting Chamber (OMVK) and the National Hunting Protection Association, in which they draw the attention of those entitled to hunt to protect wildlife and habitat and to hunt for the sake of social recognition and everything in the prevention of possible poisoning. The OMVK also chose the problem area as the central topic of the mandatory annual further training of professional hunters.
Apart from the progress, five important crime cases are still in progress, where MME and KNPI Poison & Carcass Detection Canine Units and national park directorate staff played a key role. Without their effort, it would have been impossible to detect dead birds and poisoned baits to such an extent. In each of these cases, significant conservation values were damaged, and thanks to the investigative work of the police, it is hoped that the perpetrators will soon be punished. In Austria in 2020, and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2021, 1-1 conviction was reached in a poisoning case thanks to the PannonEagle Life cooperation. In Hungary we last had a poisoning crime sentence in 2016, so perhaps it would be the right time for another "deterrent" sanction to prevent similar cases happening in the future.
The five priority cases in which the police investigation is still ongoing:
- Kisbér and Bakonyszombathely, Bagolyvár-hegy Hunting Association area (March 2021): 29 common buzzards, 8 ravens, 1 white-tailed eagle, 6 baits and 17 more dead animals were found during the investigation. The laboratory confirmed the presence of a carbamate-type toxin. The police investigation is again underway.
- Tápíószecső, Tápíószecső Megoldás Hunting Association area (April 2021): 5 marsh hearriers, 4 common buzzards, 12 ravens, 28 baits and another 24 animal carcasses. The laboratory confirmed the presence of a carbamate-type toxin. The police investigation is ongoing on suspicion of damage to nature, animal cruelty, poaching and possession of prohibited poison.
- Tura and Galgahévíz, Szent András Dombi Hunting Association area (August 2021): 2 strictly protected black kites, 1 strictly protected Montagu’s harrier, 1 strictly protected white-tailed eagle, 77 marsh harriers, 7 common buzzards, 3 ravens, 3 wood pipits, 141 baits and 24 other animal carcasses were found during the investigation. The police investigation is ongoing.
- Szabolcsbáka (April 2021): a Bulgarian GPS tagged cinereous vulture was shot on the territory of the Durbák-Farm Hunting Association. The police investigation is ongoing on suspicion of nature destruction, animal cruelty and poaching.
- Gerendás, Széchenyi Zsigmond hunting association (December 2020): according to the suspicion, the perpetrator caught more than 10 common buzzards with a live trap, which he took away from the scene, causing the animals unnecessary suffering. The police investigation is ongoing on suspicion of animal cruelty.