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The deadly trap of the Tajo-Segura transfer: this is how roe deer and wild boar drown in the canal

2022-06-24T21:54:41.055Z

The Administration admits 55 deaths since 2018, but the residents of El Picazo (Cuenca) assure that the lack of fences and ramps causes hundreds of drownings



Agents assigned to the Environmental Prosecutor's Office sounded the alarm earlier this year: "It is considered proven that multiple drowning events of wildlife have been taking place in the reference section," they write in a report.

The deadly trap is in the Tajo-Segura transfer channel, which as it passes through El Picazo (Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha) runs surrounded by steep concrete walls.

There are 7.5 kilometers of maximum danger for roe deer, wild boar and other wild animals: since 2018, 50 specimens have drowned in that section, and 13 have been rescued, to which are added 5 more deaths in the Segura post-transfer channels (for a total of 55), according to data obtained by EL PAÍS in application of the transparency law.

But the hunters in this area that runs through the Tagus assure that the real figure is much higher, and that it does not appear in the statistics because many animals leave by their own means, helped by them or by the Administration personnel, or die without nobody notices.

"After a year, we will take out 100 or more animals," laments hunter Miguel Huerta.

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Thirst is the lure that leads to death.

Also the zeal, which encourages them to cross the waters in search of new companions and territories.

The animals fall into the canal, and there they begin an agonizing struggle for survival.

Again and again they try to return to the field.

Again and again they are pushed back by concrete ramps, slipping down on their hooves, skinning their knees to the exposed joint, breaking their legs, and dying.

Only those seen by Seprona agents, employees of the Tajo Hydrographic Confederation, hunters from El Picazo, or neighbors, who act like cowboys from the Old West, throw a lasso, hook the animals, and put them on the pulse, feet planted against the cement edge, the body stretched out in the opposite direction to act as a counterweight, and the animals on the other side of the thread from which their lives hang struggling to climb, not to fall, to breathe, to live.

“We always go with ties in the car, because the animals cannot get out by themselves.

We pass by a couple of times a day, and if a walker sees an animal, he tells us, ”says Huerta.

“If they have been there for a short time, nothing happens to them,” she explains.

“If they have wounds on their legs, because when they try to get out they break them, or they peel their knees, it's something else.

After a year, we will remove 100 or more animals.

And those are the ones that we see in two times a day that we spend.

And the day has many hours!” she describes.

"So, actually, a lot more die."

Attempt to rescue a wild boar from the transfer channel.

A thesis that they also defend in the Artemisan Foundation, which denounced the deaths together with the Hunting Federation of Castilla-La Mancha, although the Prosecutor's Office did not find criminal relevance in what happened.

"What is happening here is happening in most of the canals with the presence of wildlife in the surroundings," says Luis Fernando Villanueva, director of the hunting foundation.

"The solution is not easy," he adds.

“Nobody asks to fence everything.

But it seems that since they are game species, which are hunted, nothing happens.

But it is very hard!

If instead of these animals they were dogs, cats, domestic animals, things would change.

It is very hard to see.

Hurts".

The channel through which the water is derived to Levante crosses the provinces of Cuenca and Albacete, in many sections on the surface and without any type of protection.

The infrastructure is made up of canals (170 kilometres), tunnels (44) and aqueducts (11) from the La Bujeda reservoir (Almonacid de Zorita, Guadalajara) to the Talave reservoir (Liétor, Albacete).

The prosecutor's investigators, in a document accessed by this newspaper, describe 1,823 meters of fencing and a ramp with a slope in favor of the current as measures to prevent drowning in the El Picazo section.

“Insufficient”, they underline.

At the beginning of the year, the Tajo Hydrographic Confederation planned to install 1,000 more meters of fencing in the area and build new ramps, according to what it told the agents.

"There are 82.3 km of fences on the banks of the canal and 27 exit ramps, which means, on average, one ramp every 6 kilometers of canal," defends this state body.

"Likewise, there are 122 bridges that cross the canal, of which only 22 are roads," he adds.

“Many species of animals enter the canal.

Many come down to drink on purpose and are able to get out without difficulty, eg squirrels and foxes.

Others, like wild boars, come down to drink and even bathe.

Of the common fauna in our environment, there is only one species that clearly shows great difficulty in leaving the channel: the roe deer”, he explains.

And he concludes: “In any case, it should be borne in mind that, as expressed in the conclusions and technical proposals of the Environmental Agents Unit, 'no measure is absolutely infallible',

A roe deer tries to leave the Tajo-Segura transfer channel

The foreseeable thing, therefore, is that the problem persists, and more so now, when summer begins, and with it come the heat, and the thirst.

"The risk of death by drowning in concrete channels mainly affects hoofed animals, which lack sufficient grip to be able to climb the lateral slope," reads the report sent to the Prosecutor's Office by the investigators.

"Channels are linear infrastructures that fragment habitats that produce a barrier effect on wildlife," he explains.

"The fall into the channel occurs either because the animal approaches the water with the intention of drinking or bathing, or because the animal intends to cross to the other side in its natural movements (migratory, feeding, reproductive...)", it was stated. Add.

“The increase in these events is largely due to the territorial expansion of the roe deer,

A few years ago, Huerta rescued a roe deer with broken legs.

The Administration, he says, gave him permission to take care of him, because no specialized shelter could take care of it.

For long months, the animal ate from his hands.

Until he healed from injuries caused by concrete ramps that continue to trap animals for so long, and drown them in the waters of the Tajo-Segura transfer channel.

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Source: elparis

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