The use of bait or poisoned baits is an illegal practice that represents one of the most serious threats to the red kite. The diet of this species includes both small live animals (rodents, insects, earthworms, etc.) and animal carcasses. Therefore, the red kite can die from poisoning either by ingesting any poisoned morsels scattered on the ground or by feeding on the carcasses of poisoned dead animals. In order to combat this barbaric crime, the Aspromonte National Park and the CUFAA (Carabinieri's Forest, Environmental and Agri-food Protection Unit Command) will organise a course for the staff of the Carabinieri's Park Department that will qualify them in the prevention and management of poisoning cases.
In addition, Anti-poison Dog Units of the CUFAA will carry out periodic inspections of the red kite reintroduction area and neighbouring areas to check for the possible use of poisoned baits. The UCAs will also carry out urgent inspections in case of suspected poisoning of animals.
The CUFAA has 11 UCAs operating throughout Italy, including Calabria. Each unit consists of a handler, one or two dogs trained to search for poison and support agents. The UCAs are able to detect poisoned mouthfuls and carcasses and assist in investigations and searches.