LIFE EUROKITE Project (LIFE18 NAT/AT/000048)

The core idea is to use telemetry technology to identify the spatial habitat use of the target species and quantify the key reasons of mortality of bird of prey species in the EU. Actions are to be implemented to combat the main man-made causes of death, such as illegal persecution especially through poisoning, collisions with road and rail traffic, wind farms and electricity lines and poles. It will therefore contribute to the implementation of a number of key EU policy objectives:

It will advance the implementation of EU species Action Plan for the target species. The Red Kite is of particular EU conservation priority, as 95% of the global breeding population is within the EU. It will contribute to the implementation of various nat. and EU-wide action plans to combat the illegal killing of birds and thus support the implementation of the Birds Directive as well as the Environmental Crime Directive.

It will help to ensure an environmentally sound implementation of EU climate and energy targets, as it will provide information and recommendations for the development of renewable energy infrastructure and to mitigate negative impacts of existing transmission and transport infrastructure.

The project method is to equip from 2020 to 2024 615 Red Kites and 80 other birds of prey (White-tailed Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Black Kite, Saker Falcon) in 39 tagging areas and 1 reinforcement area in 12 countries with GPS trackers to monitor their activity permanently. Approximately 250 tagged Swiss birds and 150 already tagged birds from private projects will also be included. In case of mortality the bird is sought by team members of the local / regional partners, mortality reasons are determined. In total we plan to seek victims in 26 countries. This will allow the project to get an accurate understanding as to the various causes of mortality for Red Kites and other birds of prey along areas of their flyways (for example Red Kites breeding in central Europe winter in Spain and southern France). The main advantage of the planned method, tracking of birds and post-mortem analysis, is that it works “in real time” and allows prompt action if mortality of birds from any causes is detected. This project will permit a representative sample of all causes of mortality across a large geographical area to be independently established, gaining also a better understanding of the main locations of both illegal and noncriminal incidents, as well as any relationship between such mortality with particular age classes of birds (for example are juvenile birds more or less impacted).

Based on the results measures to counteract anthropogenic mortality will be implemented. Where suitable structures and/or organisations exist, the counteractions will as far as possible, collaborate with them. The range of measures goes from information campaigns, initializing legal prosecution and lawsuits (e.g. against poisoners) to voluntarily technical measures (e.g. from power line providers) and political / legal efforts (e.g. adaption of CAP schemes) and awareness actions.

Main project objectives:

  • Significant reduction of impact of poisoning (reduction of the rate of poisoning cases by 5% on EU level)
  • Identification and solving of problematic cases concerning electrocution / collision
  • Reduction of other anthropogenic reasons of mortality
  • Population reinforcement in Spain halters range loss and identifies the factors causing a decline of the populations, presumably associated with climate change.