Counteracting direct threats to the Lesser Spotted Eagle

According to the “Action Plan for the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Bulgaria for the period 2019-2028”, the main threats to the species include destruction and damage of nesting and foraging habitats, direct destruction and persecution, disturbance, electrocution, collision with power lines and wind turbines.

Forest fires, felling of nest trees and poaching are key factors contributing to destruction of nesting habitat and loss of hatchlings and fledglings. Direct destruction and persecution include poaching, illegal shooting, setting poison baits for predators, poisoning with plant protection products (rodenticides) and nest robbing. This component aims to prevent, minimize, and eliminate threats to the Lesser Spotted Eagle and its priority habitats by directly involving responsible national and regional institutions and stakeholders.

Actions for the conservation of the species and its habitats are justified by:

1. Risk assessment of negative impacts on nests and resting places during migration, which is being developed as part of the activity. Based on the assessment, pair-specific measures aimed at the protection of nests and resting sites are developed. The high priority measures are put into practice.

2. Organization and implementation of a series of at least 10 joint control inspections in cooperation with representatives of responsible national and regional institutions (Regional Forest Directorate (RFD), State Forests/State Hunting Enterprises, Police, Gendarmerie, Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters, etc.) and NGOs. The inspections are aimed at improving the enforcement of nature conservation legislation, as well as coordination and cooperation between institutions to this end.

3. Conducting a minimum of five field inspections for each project area (minimum 100 field inspections in total) to establish the status of breeding pairs and prevent poaching. The inspections shall be conducted by the mobile forest security guards of the RFD or by the inspectors of the State Forest / State Hunting Enterprises.

4. In order to limit the direct destruction and disturbance of the Lesser Spotted Eagle within the nesting territories and resting areas, a set of measures shall be applied, including: Registering the locations of the species’ nests and resting sites during migration in Forest Management Plans and developing proposals for restrictions on forestry activities within a 100 m buffers during the breeding season and migration; justifying restrictions on site-specific activities that disturb the species.

Prevent the decline and population crash of the Lesser Spotted Eagle and other predatory species from the use of poison baits and agricultural chemicals.

5. A specially trained dog with an experienced handler comes into action. They conduct regular poison surveys at all project sites. They are deployed for rapid response in case of wildlife poisoning and to support the institutions in this regard. A minimum of 20 regular surveys are planned, with an average duration of 2 days.

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