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Vultures, a few thoughts

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Offline Clive

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« on: February 06, 2007, 20:51 PM »
Hello all

Vultures have been in the press on several different occasions recently and in one of the cases a vast number of hungry vultures descended on a dead sheep which unfortunately was enclosed in a walled pen with 600 other sheep. The ensuing panic crushed and suffocated half of the flock leaving 300 sheep dead.

The farmers happened to arrive in time to release the rest of the frightened sheep before they injured themselves further. They blamed the policy of opening a vulture feeding station and then closing it and did not blame the birds.

It would seem that vulture numbers have increased over a matter of years due to the agricultural practice of leaving out dead livestock. (A practice now not allowed by law). Instead a plentiful supply of food has been provided at special feeding sites throughout Spain and at the Sierra de Grazalema feeding site, dead horses are the supplies.

The case of the dead sheep mentioned above poses quite a few questions.

Firstly, why were the sheep being kept in such a small space in the first place? 

Why have some of the feeding stations been closed whilst at the same time strict controls are in place for collection and incineration of animals that die on farms? (This is to control the spread of disease we are told when in fact it is the practise of keeping too many animals in confined conditions that can causes disease)

Nature will adapt to extremes and by human interference an extreme has brought upon a falsely booming population who now simply want to survive.

In the same way that having too many sheep or any other animal in an enclosure will cause disease I have a feeling that the griffon vulture of Spain is in a state of population boom due to these factors mentioned.

When a life form populates to the point of un-sustainability disease, in order to cull numbers is normally the way of it.

When, and of course, if this happens at the Garganta Verde in The Sierra de Grazalema, will the resident and “protected” pair of Bonelli’s eagles be immune?

Thoughts anyone?

Clive
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Offline nick

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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2007, 22:09 PM »
Very interesting Clive,

I've had a few emails on this on the subject so I will be passing this on:

So, the stampede killed the sheep. Makes sense now. There was an article on previous attacks by vultures on sheep in Quecus last autumn. I'll try and dig it out, but as you say, they blamed the sudden removal of feeding stations. There are definately cases of vultures atacking live sheep - usually infirm or having just given birth to lambs and so bloodied.

There is I believe a campaign in Aragon at the moment to stop the closure of the feeding stations,

Per se I don't see anything wrong in keeping sheep in crowded pens at night. It's been done since their domestication as a defence against wolves and rustling. They are herding animals, and as such a dense herd is perfectly natural. Another thing is factory farming. As far as I know sheep, as opposed to chickens, pigs and cows, are not factory farmed in Spain...but we're on another debate here.

Here is the original news story


http://www.diariodelaltoaragon.es/noticias/detalle.php?id=207249
Cheers
Nick
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 22:23 PM by nick »
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2007, 23:06 PM »
Hello all

Ovejas muertas tras el ataque de las aves carroñeras. - VÍCTOR IBÁÑEZ

Is the caption in the Image.

I translate that as "dead sheep after the attack of the carrion birds"

Quite a few of our Spanish friends down here in the south have asked us if we had heard that vultures in the north had attacked and killed 300 sheep in one go.

They thought the vultures had killed them as they lay sleeping or some such nonsense and I had to point out that animals don't get asphyxiated in nice neat orderly rows and that the owners must have laid out the carcasses for the photograph

Although the article goes on to talk about asphyxiation etc it worries me that a lot of people never get further than the description of a sensationalised picture in a newspaper.

Keeping too many animals in a too small environment and feeding them artificial foods is factory farming. I am not saying that these sheep were being factory farmed. For all I know the owners were letting the sheep out every day to graze on the local pastures and the sheep were being kept in at night for their own protection.

Clive

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Offline nick

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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2007, 23:15 PM »
Yep, that's right all the news stories got it wrong...

And in the hysteria this got blown out of all proportion. And I did a news feed to it a month ago...and did not question it properly. Bad journalism on my part.

I do, however, think we should seperate this from the issue of factory farming.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2007, 00:27 AM by nick »
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2007, 16:16 PM »
The vulture family have an extremely high immune system to disease, which has been the subject of much research. Harmful bacteria have little or no effect.

At the top of nature’s own refuse disposal company, these birds give a free service to poor farming practices/husbandry. Indian political forums often overstated concerns on vulture populations being so high, but of course we all know where they figure in debate now within that part of the world.

Without the vulture, the incidence of both human and animal disease can be demonstrated to be much worse.

Let us hope our very own continue to thrive and those with any foresight continue to dispose of farm mortalities in an environmentally friendly way!

Offline cygnus

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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2007, 15:59 PM »
Being a tour leader the closing of vulture feeding stations seems a little too over the top at a time when eco-tourism is being touted as a way of supplementing farming in some of the poorer areas of Spain.

I understand this is an EEC ruling and not a Spanish one. Is this true?

The feeding stations offer an excellent chance for photography, studying behaviour and generally increasing knwoledge of the birds and their habits.

The closing of feeding stations will undoubtedly confuse birds that have been artificially sustained in the past. More sensational news stories will follow, how long before we have "killer vultures"?


Offline Technopat

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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2007, 01:23 AM »
Greetings All,
Last week TVE 1 interviewed a youngish horse breeder (missed the beginning, so don't know where, but by the lie of the land, cold, blustery day, etc., would say it was prob. Castilla-Leon-ish) who was complaining that a new-born foal had been attacked by vultures - as he approached the field he saw the birds pecking at what he thought was corpse but when he got there the animal was still alive - the images of the flesh of its hind leg pecked away were clearly not work of wild dog, etc. in the event of story being made up, and for him to star on TV. 

He was complaining about two things:
1. that while breeders who are victims of bear and wolf attacks now get compensation, he gets naught.
2. attacks (vultures on new-borns) were increasing ever since the local feeding stations were closed, blaming EU regulations following mad-cow.

His rationale was interesting, and he seemed genuinely concerned, in the sense that he understood perfectly that vultures would, in their desperation, go for whatever was easiest for them, adding that the "work" traditionally done by vultures was absolutely necessary for the balance of nature and he did not blame them at all. He just wanted the issue to be dealt with bearing in mind the 2 points mentioned above.

Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Dave

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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2007, 18:18 PM »
Dear All
Very good article in Saturday (14th) in El Mundo, a double page spread about the EU policy of retrieving cadavers from the fields, and the consequent effect on Raptors and Buitres. Double page illustrated, I have tried their web page but there is no copy available on-line. It must have, hopefully brought a bit of attention to this dreadful situation. Can anyone see if they can find the article, it was written by Isaac Vega.
Regards
Dave

Offline Dave

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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2007, 18:41 PM »
Dear All
Found an on-line copy
http://www.elmundo.es/suplementos/natura/
the article is in the list
for a direct link
http://www.elmundo.es/suplementos/natura/2007/13/1176501623.html

Regards
Dave

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2007, 00:52 AM »
Los ganaderos burgaleses denuncian la proliferación de ataques de buitres a animales vivos

More here:

http://es.noticias.yahoo.com/consumer/20070506/tenvirom-los-ganaderos-burgaleses-denuncian-l-c80110a.html

Regs.
Technopat
« Last Edit: January 14, 2008, 23:46 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline lisa

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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2007, 07:50 AM »
Interesting article here http://blogs.periodistadigital.com/lamarea.php/2007/03/15/p81232 on the subject of griffon vultures, Gyps fulvus, Spanish - Buitre Leonardo and lack of carrioña.

"Los buitres del Cañón del Río Dulce atacan al ganado doméstico. La falta de carroña les está haciendo cambiar su hábitos. Matan a las vacas parturientas y a los terneros recién nacidos. Hay noticias de casos generalizados por toda España......Atacan al ganado y lo matan. Atacan a las vacas parturientas, les sacan los ojos y se las comen vivas con el recental que asoma. La propia Guardia Civil ha podido levantar acta del último caso sucedido el pasado dia 14 (de Marzo) a las 12 de la mañana...
La fauna salvaje no da para sustentar estas colonias. Mientras dura la temporada de caza mayor aun se mantienen y los leonados han aprendido a seguir las armadas de cazadores-las coronas de buitres sobre las monterías se han convertido en habituales- porque saben que algún jabalí o venado quedara herido y acabara por morir en el monte . Pero ahora ya no hay monterías. Y los buitres leonados han aprendido a matar, porque de ello depende su vida, porque sino se mueren de hambre...
Los buitres leonados están cambiando sus pautas de comportamiento . Atacan animales domesticos debiles o que no pueden defenderse en algun momento , como es el caso de estas vacas parturientas. Caen en gran numero sobre el. Su técnica, según han relatado también otros ganaderos del Alto Tajo y la Sierra de Ayllón, es cegarlas arrancándoles los ojos, luego en número de concentración altísimo empiezan a comerse la cría que esta naciendo y a partir de ese boquete llegan a las entrañas de la madre."

The author goes on to say that important conservationists, such as Roberto Hartasanchez from Fapas, are trying to make their voices heard on this matter.

This mad law, madder than any mad cow, needs to be revised now.





« Last Edit: May 15, 2007, 07:52 AM by lisa »
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2007, 18:02 PM »
Greetings Lucy and All,
Great news, thanx Lucy!
Word of warning, however: Lucy's link above/below takes us to the login page (for El Paí­s subscribers). The article's here:

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/decreto/permite/dejar/cadaveres/campo/buitres/ataquen/ganado/elpepusoc/20070526elpepisoc_6/Tes

Looks like politicians, farmers and ecologists agree  :o - could this be the beginning of a ...  :)?
Regs.
Technopat
« Last Edit: January 14, 2008, 23:45 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline lisa

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« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2007, 22:16 PM »
Thanks from me too Lucy for the news. I just hope there aren't too many obstacles for proving their hunger. Bound to be "mucho papeleo"  ::)
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Offline CDDI

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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2007, 08:38 AM »
This saga of our local paregrines may add more insight into griffon vulture increase. Five years ago a couple of pairs of vultures colonised the rock face which has always been home to the falcons.  The colony has now increased to 30 nests, some of which are at ground level. During that time the peregrines have annually had to find a new niche for their eggs as the previous site had been taken up by griffons which start incubating a month earlier.  This year the falcons, which have probably been present for generations, called it quits and moved on - a great loss from my perspective.  I saw a figure  published putting the griffon population at 16000 birds.  Difficult to say exactly how many breeding pairs of peregrines there are in Spain, but an estimate of 750 was quoted some years ago  (1250 in the UK!)  Of course I love to see vultures circling overhead.  But this small drama on our ecological backdoor gives food for thought on man's good intentions in guiding nature's hand!   regards to all, CDDI

Offline lucy

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« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2007, 11:58 AM »
Aren’t they just returning to the numbers that existed before they were nearly driven to extinction in the 1960s, when livestock corpses began to be disposed of in a more “sanitary” way, as well as premiums paid out for shooting and poisoning them?  It’s complicated, isn’t it, since their existence in Spain has been so closely linked to man’s activities.  Since people don’t keep livestock like they used to, does that mean that the vulture should be allowed to die out too?

Offline lisa

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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2007, 22:36 PM »
Hi Lucy, CDDI and all,
here are comments from Fapas president Roberto Hartasanchez,
"El presidente del Fapas cree que esta normativa 'pone en la picota el cierre del comedero de Ordunte' decretado por la Diputación, que a su juicio ha cometido 'una negligencia'. También lamenta que el Gobierno 'haya tardado tanto en reconocer este problema. Han sido cuatro años terribles', asegura. 'En la zona de los Picos de Europa hemos encontrado buitres adultos muertos en los nidos. Les habían condenado a desaparecer'
http://www.fapas.es/notifapas/2007/20070528_reses_muertas.htm

And I'd like to add that it's not just vultures this change in law could affect - bears eat carrion too.

"Diversos estudios, incluido el foto-trampeo, confirman que las carroñas de la ganadería extensiva son parte importante de la dieta del oso pardo, sobre todo en los momentos más críticos de su ciclo anual. Pero la reducción de este recurso trófico, tras la entrada en vigor de la normativa para erradicar el mal de las "vacas locas", puede impedir la recuperación de la población cantábrica de la especie."
http://www.fapas.es/proyectos/tecnicos/quercus-0806-carrona.htm
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2007, 22:38 PM »
Sorry about the peregrines though.
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2007, 08:28 AM »
Just seen in El País that the first griffon vulture chick has been born in the reproductive centre of the teleférico at Benalmádena (Málaga).
http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/Nace/primer/buitre/leonado/habitat/controlado/Andalucia/elpepusoc/20070528elpepusoc_4/Tes
Going to their website, http://www.teleferico.com/article/novedad/793/1/228/, I discovered that they have also bred peregrines.  :D

While I'm at it, I've also just read on another forum (only joined to spread my petition you understand) re. carrion, that someone's grandfather claims that vultures have always attacked weak animals such as new-borns and children  :o
Anyone got any stories/evidence of this extraordinary claim??
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Offline CDDI

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« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2007, 10:06 AM »
Hello Lisa, et al, Thanks for your condolence on the peregrines!  I would just add that I am in no way elevating the importance of falcons or any other species over vultures.  In our case the spread of griffons is directly due to them running out of nesting sites in other parts of the sierra. This is of course a success story for them. The root of the problem goes directly to the ludicrous directive disallowing carcasses of deceasaed animals to remain where they died. The feeding centres were absolutely praiseworthy, but as you know when wild creatures become dependant on an artificial food supply their behaviour patterns change. eg  There were no urban foxes in my youth. There must be a coherent policy and forward thinking when these directives are made in areas affecting ecology. Brussels again???! cheers, Derek