The LIFE GYPHELP project, in which the VCF is a partner, focus on reducing the main threats to the populations of bearded vultures in the French alps, namely the collisions against cables, intoxication/poisoning (particularly lead poisoning), and disturbance of the breeding sites by human activities.
The Project, which started in the summer of 2014, is led by Asters (Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels de Haute-Savoie) and has as partners two national parks in the French Alps (Vanoise & Mercantour), the Observatoire des Galliformes de Montagnes, the local hunting association (FDC74) and the VCF, and is funded by the EU LIFE programme.
During the project, many ski lifts and electricity power lines are being fit with anti-collision systems. In 2015 an adult bearded vulture has been found dead in the region after it collided against a ski lift.
One of the activities has been to pilot methods to put anti-collision markers in high-tension markers across steep valleys or canyons, where the traditional methods do not work or are very expensive.
In late 2016 ENEDIS (the French grid manager) and the LIFE GYPHELP team have worked to use drones to put fireflies – an anti-collision bird marker, in a 20,000-volt line above Tignes dam– a first for France. This line, near the Tignes ski resort, is in the core of the Alps, within bearded vulture territories, and due to its height could not be done with the traditional methods to put bird markers.
The demonstration operation has been organised by Hammarprodukter – the Swedish producers of the firefly marker being used – and E-Sense, a drone company, with the collaboration of ENEDIS and the Vanoise National Park.