Photos: © Volen Arkumarev

Specialized course on wildlife crime investigation was held in the Thrakia University of Stara Zagora in the period October 04-06 2023. The trainees were police investigators from 6 regional departments of the Ministry of Interior and two inspectors from the recently established police unit named “Crimes against wildlife and nature”. The lecturers were representatives of the Trakia University, the General Directorate of the National Police, the Association of the Prosecutors in Bulgaria who have graduated the Wildlife Crime Academy in Spain and are qualified in this field of criminology. Active participants in the training were also experts from BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria and Green Balkans. The training covered topics such as national and international wildlife legislation, forensic, crime analyses and how intelligence can prevent wildlife crimes such as poisoning, poaching, illegal trade and aid investigations. In the final day a practical training was held recreating a poisoning incident with protected species. The antipoison dog unit of BSPB was engaged in that task and supported the participants in the collection of evidences and the crime investigation. All participants had to pass a final exam and received certificates from the Trakia University for postgraduate qualification.

Volen Arkumarev

After the training the participants visited the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre of Green Balkans where they could learn from the vets what efforts are needed to recover protected species which fell victims of various illegal activities. They could also release Common Buzzards and Kestrels which have successfully recovered in the Center.

This training course was initiated by BSPB and Trakia University aiming to improve the capacity of the national authorities to tackle wildlife crimes and to improve the coordination between the institutions. These activities are set out in the National Action Plan to Combat Illegal Use of Poisons in the Wild 2021-2030“. The Action plan was officially adopted by the Ministry of Environment and Water in the summer of 2021. It is one of the most important strategic documents focusing on eliminating one of the biggest threats to wild birds – the use of poisons in nature. In 2022 the first training course was held when 13 cadets from the Ministry of Interior, RIEW, Regional Forest Directorates, and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency took part.

The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds expresses its gratitude to the colleagues from the Thrakia University of Stara Zagora, the General Directorate of the National Police, the Association of Prosecutors in Bulgaria and Green Balkans.

The specialized course was held within the LIFE project “LIFE for Falcons” (LIFE20 NAT/BG/1162) funded by the LIFE Programme of EU.