LIFE PLUTO - Italian emergency strategy for fighting illegal poisoning and minimize its impact on bear, wolf and other species

LIFE13 NAT/IT/000311

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Contact details:

Contact person: Osvaldo DI FRANCESCO
Tel: 398626052218
Fax: 39862606675
Email: monica.difrancesco@gransassolagapark.it

Project description:


The illegal use of poison is one of the main threats to two priority large carnivore species of the Habitats Directive – the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the wolf (Canis lupus) – as well as to several scavenger raptor species.

Each year in Italy several cases of poisoning are reported, although it is thought these represent only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, the practice remains mostly undiscovered due to the fact that the carcasses of wild animals are rarely found, especially if they are of very rare species. Furthermore, cases of poisoning are not always reported.

The use of poison baits also remains widespread: sometimes the poison targets are the protected species themselves. But at other times, protected species are caught up in, for example, local quarrels among truffle searchers or between truffle searchers and hunters. The use of poison baits is most common in areas frequented by the wolf and in the brown bear distribution area in the Apennines. The Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) is another common victim of poison. Other species that are particularly vulnerable to poisoning are the red kite (Milvus milvus), the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus).


The LIFE PLUTO project’s overall objective is to favour the conservation of the brown bear, wolf and scavenger raptors in Italy, by carrying out large-scale measures for preventing and fighting the illegal use of poison.

A cornerstone of the project is the use of anti-poisoning dog units (known by their Italian acronym NCAs) over a significant part of the country. Specifically, it aims to set up six units, run by the Italian forest service, together with two units covering the Gran Sasso-Laga national park. Each unit will consist of one dog trainer and two dogs. The eight NCAs will together operate over all of central and southern Italy, covering 11 regions in total. The units will carry out routine inspections in the areas most at risk, as well as urgent inspections once a poison carcass or bait is found, in order to clear the territory of other poison.

Expected results:

  • A 90% increase in the number of reports of wild animal poisoning cases received by the state forest authority on its ‘1515’ emergency telephone number;
  • A 60% increase in interventions, as requested by other institutional bodies; and
  • A 30% increase in detection of wild animal poisoning cases in the first two years after the NCA’s start up, and a 50% decrease in numbers within four years.



Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Mammals


endangered species‚  poison‚  emergency plan‚  environmental law

Target species

 Canis lupus   Gypaetus barbatus   Gyps fulvus   Milvus milvus   Neophron percnopterus   Ursus arctos 

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Park-Reserve authority
Description The beneficiary is the park authority of the ‘Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga’ National Park, one of the most important national parks in Italy. Located in the southern-central part of the country, the authority oversees nature protection activities on an area of almost 144 000 ha of largely mountainous terrain.
Partners CFS(Corpo Forestale dello Stato), Italy


Project reference LIFE13 NAT/IT/000311
Duration 01-JUN-2014 to 31-MAY -2020
Total budget 2,414,270.00 €
EU contribution 1,265,077.00 €
Project location Emilia-Romagna(Italia) Toscana(Italia) Umbria(Italia) Marche(Italia) Lazio(Italia) Campania(Italia) Abruzzo(Italia) Molise(Italia) Puglia(Italia) Basilicata(Italia) Calabria(Italia)


Read more:

Brochure "Italian emergency strategy for fighting illegal poisoning and minimize its impact on bear, wolf and other species" (1.94 MB)
Brochure "Strategia italiana di emergenza per combattere l'avvelenamento illegale e minimizzare il suo impatto su orso, lupo ed uccelli rapaci" (1.56 MB)
Poster "Il Progetto LIFE Pluto: Il progetto mette in camp ...
Poster "La stazione di alimentazione (carnaio) per rapaci ...
Poster "Strategia italiana di emergenza per combattere l' ...
Poster "Nuclei Cinofili Antiveleno (NCA)" (2.14 MB)
Project web site Project's website
Slides Presentation "Grandi carnivori e rapaci necrofagi minacciati in ...


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version