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Dead animals back on the menu for vultures


24 Apr 2009


Health & Consumers

New EU rules allow farmers to leave dead livestock in the field, helping starving vultures

Brussels, 24 April 2009 – BirdLife International [1] welcomed today’s vote in the European Parliament [2] 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 [3].

Today’s 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.”

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 the Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti, the Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus, and the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus.[4]

The European Parliament has voted today to allow Member States to allow farmers [5] 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 is 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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