Picos de Europa

Picos de Europa

The Principality of Asturia extends its support of the Bearded Vulture project to 2013.

The FCQ will seek European financing to develop the second phase of its recuperation in the Picos de Europa.

The Principality again renews its commitment to the project of the Bearded Vulture recuperation in the Picos de Europa. It will be for five more years, i.e. the promise of protection extends to 2013. The Director General of Biodiversity and Landscape, José Félix García Gaona, gace his promise the past week to the president of the foundation for the protection of this bird, Gerardo Báguena, at a meeting held in Oviedo. Both Cantabria and Castilla y León had passed on their intention to prolong their support for another five years and only the word of the Principality was missing for an agreement, which was moreover necessary to apply for european financing. The FCQ wishes to present its candidacy for the subsidies of the Project Life before the 30th of November in order to embark on the second phase of the reintroduction of the bird and moreover to be able to rely on the resources it already had at the start of it. The new project will carry the name: ‘Conservation of the Bearded Vulture in the mountains of the Network Natura 2000 of the north of Spain’. The idea of the second phase is that it is submitted to ‘parallel application’ in the Picos de Europa and in the Pyrenees, but also in the corridor that unites them. Therefor, as Báguena explains, in the first instance it is a matter of actions to be taken to improve the productivity in the Pyrenees. “This consists of acting on the ‘worst nests’ in order to guarantee a larger number of individuals in the Pyrenees, which then will permit the transfer of the first chicks to the Picos.The nests considered to be ‘worst nests’ are those that render less individuals; in concreto, Báguena explains, those that have rendered less than three chicks in the last eleven years. The actions in the Pyrenees have already started. It began two weeks ago with a supplementary feeding plan. This will be supplemented by initiatives that mean to reduce the mortality rate of the birds in Aragón and to create feeding sites in the corridor that unites the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa, where the installation of a permanent station of radio-telemetry is planned to check the movements of the Bearded Vultures. At this moment, as the president of the FCQ explains, the first copulations are taking place, the birds are selecting the caves and this is a critical period; the physical state of the females has to be as healthy as possible to ensure the survival of the chicks that are to fly in the Picos.

Delays

Báguena explains that the construction of the breeding center of Aragón where the birds that are to be released in the Picos next year, are expected to be born, suffers more delays than foreseen due to the commitments which the building companies made to the Expo Zaragoza. The president of the foundation travelled to Aragón to accelerate the construction. He fears that if it does not speed up “we shall not be in time for the reproduction period”, which will cause another postponement of the date of reintroduction of the Bearded Vulture in the National Park which is shared by Asturia, Cantabria and Castilla y León. The first idea was to release the first birds in 2007, but the adverse weather conditions in the Pyrenees, where the eggs are to be taken, made it impossible. The new term was settled for May next year, in the Duje valley. The president of the foundation explains that the second phase of the reintroduction of the Bearded Vulture also causes the autonomous regions to take care of problems such as the illegal use of poison or the power lines, which are supposed to be the main causes of death of thousands of animals. The Bearded Vulture disappeared from the Picos half way through the last century. The principle causes were poison in bait and death by shooting. At that time it was a hunting trophy of great value. Half a century later in 2002, the foundation, which has been working in the Pyrenees for almost 15 years, started on the project for the recuperation of the species in the Cantabrian Mountain Range.

Source: El Comercio Digital. Wednesday 21 November 2007.