A suspected mass poisoning has killed dozens of vultures in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain. Around the same number of poisoned vultures were found violently sick and their chances of surviving are bleak.
All the poisoned vultures are suspected to have fed on the remains of 4 sheep that were found in this northwestern region of Spain. Experts are yet to determine whether the poisoning was deliberate or the result of agricultural poisoning.
Spain has around 90% of Europe’s population of these endangered birds, of which 2,500 pairs are cinereous vultures, and close to 35,000 pairs of griffon vultures.
According to a joint report by the UN and Vulture Conservation Foundation, vultures are particularly vulnerable to poison used to eliminate wolves and foxes.
Poisoned Vultures Received Onsite Treatment
The poisoned vultures received emergency medical aid at the site, but 20 escaped before they could be captured for further treatment, as per reports by Rare Bird Alert.
Tissue and blood samples collected from the poisoned vultures have been referred to the forensic and toxicology department of the University of Murcia. It is hoped that the veterinary faculty could help in determining the source of the poison and the cause of death of the poisoned vultures.
Poisoned vultures are frequently collateral victims, and poisoning is the foremost threat to various species of vultures worldwide. 97% of the Indian vultures were wiped out due to diclofenac poisoning before it was ultimately banned in the country for veterinary treatment.
Every year a substantial number of vultures are killed in Spain, with accidental deaths the most frequent cause. From 1992 to 2017, records with the Spanish authorities revealed that 1,757 Griffon Vultures died due to poisoning in Spain. 325 Egyptian vultures 624 Cinereous vultures, and another 48 of the bearded variety also suffered an identical fate in the same period.
The figure could be much higher as numerous deaths are never reported. Earlier, Spanish authorities fined a farmer in Caceres for deliberately exposing scavenging birds to poisoned sheep carcasses. The Griffon Vulture is the most poisoned in Spain. With a total of 1,757 Griffon vulture deaths, it comes to around 23.4% of deaths of all raptors.