In Europe, the illegal use of poison is one of the main threats to the conservation of many carnivorous mammals and scavenging raptors.
The aim of the LIFE PLUTO project was to prevent and tackle this practice by carrying out numerous actions in 11 regions of mainland Italy, particularly in protected areas and in areas of particular relevance for endangered species. Specific measures were implemented in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park.
The LIFE PLUTO project has set up a system for preventing and tackling the poisoning that takes place across much of the Italian peninsula. The project made it possible to:
- highlight the illegal use of poison. The six Anti-poison Dog Units set up under the project carry out both routine and emergency inspections to detect the presence of poison-baits (a total of 1,539 inspections were carried out). Awareness-raising activities encouraged citizens to report suspected cases of poisoning and, thereby, to make it easier to deploy CUFAA ecological police and Anti-poison Dog Unit staff;
- reduce the impact of poison on wildlife. Anti-poison Dog Units are able to quickly and effectively clean up areas where poisoning has occurred and also assist in investigations. In total the ADUs found and removed at least 198 baits, 58 carcasses and 5 instances of baits spread across a wider area that were either definitely or very probably poisoned, as well as other items related to the use of poison or other crimes;
- manage poisoning cases effectively. CUFAA ecological police were trained in the procedures to adopt when confronted with poison-baits and carcasses and how to cooperate with Anti-poison Dog Units in the field (10 training courses were held in 8 different Italian regions, attended by about 400 participants);
- prevent the illegal use of poison. Awareness-raising measures encouraged the reporting of suspected poisoning cases and discouraged the use of poison. They also created a communication campaign aimed at a wider and more diverse public, covering the operations carried out by Anti-poison Dog Units and the efforts of CUFAA ecological police to combat this crime, thus playing an important role in deterring poisoning. The CUFAA ecological police held 9 public presentations of the Anti-poison Dog Units and coordinated 14 meetings involving over 500 people from among various stakeholders. The Anti-poison Dog Units presented their work through talks and demonstrations at 63 events of various kinds involving more than 15,300 people.
In the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, the LIFE PLUTO project developed a virtuous system that helps raptors that are vulnerable to poisoning and reduces conflicts between the farming community and wildlife, which are a potential trigger for the use of poison-baits. This was achieved by setting up a feeding station for scavenging raptors, operated in conjunction with local livestock farmers.
Furthermore, the Gran Sasso-Laga Park ran an extensive awareness-raising campaign in schools which culminated in 2018 with a design competition and four award ceremonies.
The campaign mainly involved primary and secondary schools and proved to be a great success – it brought together 580 pupils from 36 classes in three provinces and seven municipalities.
Among others, CUFAA has been working on the LIFE Egyptian Vulture project (LIFE16 NAT/IT/000659), which aims to protect the Egyptian Vulture in Italy, and the LIFE MILVUS project (LIFE18 NAT/IT/000917), which looks to reintroduce the Red Kite into the Aspromonte National Park.

For further information:

LIFE PLUTO Layman's report
LIFE PLUTO Final Report - Summary

  • Immagine 1
logo carabinieri
Copyright © 2018 - Ente Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga
P. IVA 01439320662 - Tutti i diritti riservati
Il sito è realizzato con il contributo dello strumento finanziario LIFE della Comunità Europea