During the period 20-31 October 2011, the University of Crete –Natural History Museum of Crete (NHMC) coordinated the official inspections of the European Canine Team from Andalusia (Spain) in the framework of the LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity project on “Innovative Actions Against Illegal Poisoning in EU Mediterranean Pilot Areas” [LIFE09 NAT/ES/000533].
The main objectives of this pilot action were the detection of the illegal use of poisoned baits project’s pilot areas of Crete (Crete Mountains: Idi, Asterousia, Dikti), and the assessment of the effectiveness of trained dogs in meeting this illegal activity. 
The European Canine Team was consisted by 1 dog trainer and 3 dogs (German shepherd). They visited areas with intense hunting activity and tried to detect dead animals and baits. The whole operation was monitored and supported by the local Forestry Departments and Hunting Associations.
In Crete, the inspections took place in the Prefectures of Heraklion, Lasithi and Rethymno and particularly in the communities of Kroussonas, Asites, Viannos, Simi, Plateau of Omalos, Kastelliana, Achendrias, Trypiti, Miamou-Aghios Kyrillos (Heraklion), Plateau of Lassithi and Plateau of Katharo (Lasithi), Skepasti and Yious Kampos  (Rethymno). These areas were selected according to the instructions of the Hunting Associations reliant on the losses of hunting dogs and on the use of poisoned baits during the last two years. Overall, the trained dogs detected 31 dead animals: 1 griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), 8 martens (Martes foina), 8 domestic cats (Felix catus), 12 dogs (Canis familiaris) and 2 hedgehogs (Erinceus concolor). Moreover, the dogs identified 45 poisoned baits in different areas. It is peculiar that, close to a poisoned bait it was found a dead snake (Telescopus falax), which will be examined to ascertain the cause of its death.
It is worth mentioning that the number of dead poisoned animals found in these surveys is three-fold the number of poisoned animals discovered last year by ECT in its first visit in Crete (11 dead animals in total). At the same time, the poisoned baits that were found during this year’s inspections are seven-fold compared to the findings of October 2011. All dead animals were collected, in order to certify the cause of death and to identify the toxic substances that were used.
It is worth mentioning that in similar surveys that conducted in early October 2012 in mainland Greece, with the coordination of the environmental organization ARCTUROS and in the framework of the same LIFE project, the European Canine Team found 14 dead animals (9 dogs, 2 foxes, 1 raven, 1 turtle and 1 hedgehog).
The conclusions of these inspections and the on-the-spot fieldworks indicated that the use of poisoned baits is mainly used by: a) stockbreeders to control small mammals and hunting dogs (feral or not) that they prey or scatter the flocks, b) hunters at the hunting areas in order to discourage the hunting activity, due to competitive or dispute reasons, and c) beekeepers against bee predators (e.g. wasps).
In addition, the number of poisoned raptors brought forward to the NHMC and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers due to secondary poisoning, in combination with the increase of poisoning incidences, coincides with the training period of hunting dogs, few weeks before the beginning of hunting season (August-September), and the period of birth of sheep (October-December) when poisons are used against predators, mainly ravens (Corvus corax).
We would like to thank for their cooperation the following organizations and public bodies: Α’ Hunting Federation of Crete and the Dodecanese (Hunting Associations of Heraklion, Viannos, Ierapetra and Agios Nikolaos); Forestry Departments of Heraklion (Forest Services of Moires, Pyrgos, Viannos and Kastelli), Lasithi (Forest Services of Agios Nikolaos) and Rethymno (Forest Services of Perama); and the 126th Squadron (126 SD) of the Hellenic Air Force for hosting the dogs of the European Canine Team in Heraklion.