Poisoning animals is a criminal offense under police jurisdiction, report it!

Since we recognise the connection between cases of poisoning in wild and domestic animals, owners of dogs or cats that have suffered this unfortunate fate sometimes contact us to express their concerns about the non-existent prosecution of such crimes

  • 08.07.2022.

Concerning the case of dog poisoning on Mljet, which occurred a week ago, the owner of the deceased dog contacted the Association Biom, noting that poisoning is a frequent occurrence in the towns of Sobra and Zadublje. According to Velinka Buljan, in the last two months, at least 10 owned dogs and cats were poisoned in Sobra alone, along with several community cats.

One of the four poisoned dogs on Mljet

The media have been increasingly reporting on cases of domestic animals and pets being poisoned, and it is clear that the practice, although illegal, remains common in some areas. Despite the perpetrator usually being unknown, an attempt at an investigation must always be made to put a stop to such incidents.

“As part of the Balkan Detox LIFE project, we are trying to point out the scale of the negative impact that poisoning has on biodiversity. Since this is a criminal act, through project activities, we encourage state institutions in all partner countries in the Balkans to prosecute these legally punishable acts”, notes Nera Fabijanić, a nature protection expert in the Association Biom. As demonstrated by this example, poisoning is not limited to wild animals; pets are targeted as well. Recognising the connection between cases of poisoning in wild and domestic animals, owners of dogs or cats who have suffered this unfortunate fate sometimes contact us to express their concerns about the non-existent prosecution of such crimes.

The police must be contacted about every case of poisoning, as it falls under police jurisdiction as a criminal offense. It should be noted that citizen investigations are not admissible in court, and such an approach will not lead to constructive results. Poisoning animals is prohibited by the Animal Protection Act (Article 4, Paragraph 2, Item 14), and the prescribed penalty for natural persons is HRK 10,000 to 15,000. Additionally, poisoning is punishable by the Penal Code (Art. 205, Paragraph 1), with a prison sentence of up to one year. To cooperate with the police effectively, you should allow them to see the scene (where, if possible, nothing should be touched until they arrive), point out any poisonous baits if found, provide all the available and accurate information, suggest witnesses if there are any, and if deemed necessary, hand over the poisoned animal’s body for autopsy and toxicological testing.

The illegal poisoning of wild animals is one of the major problems of today’s biodiversity conservation. This practice has devastating effects on the populations of numerous endangered species, including birds of prey, scavengers, large carnivores, and other wild animals, often leading to local and regional extinction. Moreover, it prevents some species from returning to their original habitats. The use of toxic baits exacerbates the problem, presenting not only a threat to wildlife but also a public health hazard for both the perpetrators and unsuspecting citizens. Exposed pesticides or toxic baits in communities pose risk to anyone, including children, potentially resulting in poisoning incidents.

The illegal poisoning of wild animals in our environment is extremely challenging to control and prevent. Toxic substances can be easily obtained and used, encouraging the perpetrators to opt for this very harmful and illegal method of animal killing. Poisoning operates silently, as even extremely small amounts can result in high mortality. In total, only about 20% of incidents are recorded or reported.

A golden eagle poisoned in 2020.

Placing poison baits in the open is an indiscriminate method of killing animals. This approach is problematic because almost every domestic and wild animal that ingests the poisoned bait dies. If the poison is not removed from nature, a whole series of related poisonings occurs, leading to multiple victims. Scavengers, such as griffon vultures, can feed on the carcasses of poisoned animals and meet a tragic end themselves. Multiple species often fall victim to this very harmful and illegal practice.

Wildlife knows no political borders; animals that ingest poisoned bait may cross into neighbouring countries, dying there and potentially causing secondary poisoning, thus creating a vicious cycle. Additionally, since poisoning is a common occurrence in all Balkan countries, with similar causes, methods, and substances used, illegal cross-border trade in prohibited substances represents a significant challenge in preventing the spread of this threat, which endangers not only wild and domestic animals, but people as well.

(This article was translated into English by Maša Dvornik)