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Keywords:

  • Andalusia;
  • birds of prey;
  • carnivores;
  • hunting yields;
  • poisoning events;
  • predator species richness;
  • predictive models

Abstract

Wild predators are targeted if they are perceived to affect game species or domestic animals. Over the last century, the direct persecution of birds of prey and mammalian carnivores has led to their widespread decline, even local extirpations. Many such cases involved the illegal use of poisoned bait. We used 1,305 detected poisoning events and 59 biophysical variables to construct a distribution model of illegal poisoning throughout Andalusia, southern Spain. We chose this region because the largest number of poisoning events recorded in Spain were detected in Andalusia during the period 1990–2005. Our results showed greater incidence of poisoning was correlated with areas of high predator richness and high wild rabbit hunting yields. Thus, we hypothesize that wildlife managers should be able to estimate current and potential poisoning areas using frequency of poisoning events data. Managers can then focus control within those areas identified as conflict zones and establish surveillance schemes that prevent the loss of wildlife within the targeted areas. Our results have potential application in strategic planning for conservation of vulnerable high-profile species such as birds of prey and mammalian carnivores in southern Spain and other regions. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.