Spanish call for help for vultures to clear waste

Rules on the disposal of animal carcasses should be loosed to encourage Spain's vulture population to grow, according to leading scientists in the country.

The birds, who survive by feeding on dead animals like sheep, cattle and other livestock, have suffered in recent years due to rules around the disposal of carcasses which have been tightened due to mad cow disease.

The government of Spain, where around 90% of Europe’s vulture species live, has called on the European Union to alter the rules on the animal corpses and leaving them where they fall.

In rural Spain many groups consider the birds a clean and sustainable way to remove dead animals from the countryside.

As a result the birds now survive mainly as tourist attractions at managed sitre run by local authorities, which are managing the populations halting what had been years of increased growth.

Leading scientists and researchers have written to Science magazine saying: “The effects of this policy include a halt in population growth, a decrease breeding success, and an apparent increase in mortality of young age classes.”

In La Rioja in the north of the country spotters have reported an 80% drop in vultures, while reports claim numbers have fallen by 40% over five years in Segovia in central Spain.

Luke Walsh

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