Dead animals back on the menu for vultures
New EU rules allow farmers to leave dead livestock in the field, helping starving vultures
On 24 April 2009 BirdLife International welcomed the vote in the European Parliament to put dead meat, or carrion, back on the menu for Europe’s hungry vultures. Vultures, known as nature’s cleaners, are capable of stripping a dead cow or sheep carcass in a matter of hours. They have been starving since EU rules forced all dead livestock to be cleared right away in the countryside.
This vote followed an agreement reached by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council which have all cooperated constructively to find a solution for the ‘vulture crisis’ – which had resulted in birds flying across the continent in search for food.
Ariel Brunner, Senior Agricultural Policy Officer at BirdLife International commented on the vote: “BirdLife has been asking decision makers for a long time to remove this unnecessary threat to some of Europe’s most magnificent birds of prey and we are particularly happy that several Members of the European Parliament as well as Commission officials have taken to heart our plea and worked constructively towards today’s decision”.
“Today is an important breakthrough but the lean times are not over yet for the Vultures" —Ariel Brunner, Senior Agricultural Policy Officer at BirdLife International
The Spanish populations of Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus have been particularly badly hit by the lack of food. Groups of starving vultures have gone in search of food, flying hundreds of kilometres as far as Germany and, to the astonishment of locals, have been seen even outside Brussels in 2008. Lack of food is also affecting threatened species such as Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti, Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus, and Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus.
The European Parliament has voted to allow Member States to allow farmers in Member States to leave dead livestock where they fall for the benefit of vultures when it is safe to do so from a human and animal health point of view. Other birds and mammals such as bears and wolves will also benefit from these changes as they are known to also scavenge carcasses.
Mr. Brunner noted however that it's now up to the governments to implement the changes: “Today is an important breakthrough but the lean times are not over yet for the Vultures as Member States will still have to use the derogations that have been granted by today’s vote”.
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Credits: BirdLife European Division