Griffon Vultures spotted in Belgium

Grey vultures in Belgium | photo: Gunther Groenez Various locations in Belgium have recieved a visit of nearly a hundred griffon vultures coming from the Spanish Pyrenees, according to the information of the Flemish television channel VRT at its website.

May we add to this curious piece of news on the movements of griffon vultures in Belgium: to say that the observed birds are from the Spanish Pyrenees is at least a wild guess, for as far as we know from this piece of news they were not marked. Be they from whatever part they are (reintroduction project of the Massif Central of France or Spain, with a population of about 22.500 pairs) it is evident that it is an unusual event and that it icould be possible that it is related to the change in the conditions and the provision of food sources since the application of different systems of disposal of dead animals in the European Union.

Europe press Brussels

About 15 birds of this species have been spotted near de Knesselare in Flanders, but it was possible to see them also in four other provinces of Belgium. According to the tv channel the arrival of the carrion birds is due to new legal provisions that prohibit leaving dead animals in the mountains.

Searching for food

To Dominique Verbelen, member of Natuurpunt the Flemish association for the preservation of nature, it is clear that the animals are in search of food. “Vultures in the wild are saprophagous and feed on carrion, but they will not find dead cows or sheep in Belgium” maintains the ecologist. According to Verbelen it is hunger that has driven them to abandon their natural habitat and he calls to mind that before the appearance of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), generally known as mad cow disease, the Spanish cattlefarmers abandoned the remains of dead animals in the field to be eaten by vultures.

Nothing to do with EU rules

Sources of the EU Executive maintain, however, that the occurrence of the birds in Belgium has nothing to do with EU rules. They call to mind, moreover, that five member states, among them Spain, benefit by a derogation from the legislation permitting them to dispose of dead animals in the field to feed the vultures under certain conditions and always and only when it is supposed not to be a risk to public health.

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