Greece sets up special unit to prevent killing of animals from poisoned bat

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Greece has set up a new Special Poisoned Bait Detection Units (EMADD) which aims to prevent the killing of animal life through poisoned baits, announced the Energy & Environment Ministry on Friday.

The Ministry  noted that  five Belgian shepherd dogs will be incorporated  into the programme with their training to be completed in the city of Larissa, central Greece.

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Seven EMADD teams will launched into action for the first time in Greece this summer.

Deputy Minister Giorgos Amiras followed the final stages of the dogs' training at the 110th Air Force Combat Wing in Larissa, it was added.

Amyras noted that the ministry's "struggle for the protection of ecosystems and the species they host is intensifying" with the addition of these dogs, and that "protecting biodiversity is key to dealing with the climate crisis."

The dogs were born in Huelma, Spain, in May 2021, and they were first trained at a specialized centre there. Their Spanish trainers were the ones who followed through the dogs' training in in Larissa too.

The Belgian shepherd dog breed was chosen for these search missions for its endurance, intelligence and excellent sense of smell and hearing.

The specially trained dogs and their handlers will be deployed in the protected natural areas of Thrace, Epirus, Western Thessaly and Western Central Greece in order to locate and remove poisoned baits from the field.

These areas fall under the jurisdiction of the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency (NECCA), which is supervised by the Energy & Environment Ministry. NECCA will also undertake the costs of the dogs' medical care and feeding.

NECCA explained that a single poisoned animal or other type of poisoned bait can lead to the mass killing - or even the local extinction - of a species, and that the phenomenon is uncontrollable and in most cases not recorded. It mainly affects carnivorous birds of prey like vultures, but also endangers mammalian species.